Evangelizing the sinners; Edifying the saints; Exalting the Savior.
Category Blogs and Class Lessons
Our Sunday School teachers, mainly our adult class provides us with a study guide/notes to help us prepare and dig a little deeper into the Word. We hope you find this helpful as you join us! Some of our members like to blog about the things they learn and we like to share it here!
Please hear my heart even if the words don’t make much sense and possibly come across as a bit abrasive.
Some of you know my story. Most of you think you know it and have me figured out. Some of you know just bits and pieces along with what the gossips tell you. All of you only know what I want you to know along with a tid bit or two that leaked during a moment of vulnerability. Well, I am feeling a bit vulnerable and a bit fed up. So, let me share what’s on my heart. Maybe then you will understand.
I tell the story of “becoming a Christian” with a bit of humor and a lot of sarcasm. At 4 years old I was fully aware of what I was asking for when I muttered a few words while kneeling next to my bed with my eyes closed… a few extra minutes not having to go to bed. It was a stall tactic and I got what I wanted that night.
It wasn’t until several years later, in my early 20s, when God finally got a hold of my heart. I always joke saying I came back kicking and screaming. Well, that’s not entirely true, at least not how you probably pictured it in your mind as you shook your head and walked away. Oh, I was kicking and screaming and crying and pitching a fit. Not at God, but at myself. My world was literally falling apart. I knew the thoughts I had had in my teen years along with the things I did. And yes, there was a significant amount of shame associated with pretty much all of it.
Well, at the point where I finally turned to God I was married with a toddler and baby. My marriage was on the verge of divorce. I couldn’t afford to work (childcare costs and lack of training/schooling). It was one emotional roller coaster after another. And (in my mind) nobody understood me. I was falling apart from the inside out and seemed like the devil himself was digging my grave while laughing hysterically.
It was at the moment when I was at my absolute lowest with all my shortcomings and failings flashing like neon signs before my eyes that I truly felt God lift me out of that pit. I knew from that moment on that I was His and whatever He wanted from me I would gladly give. You know what he asked of me? Time. He wanted my time. How it would be used, He would show me later. But, He asked me to give Him my time.
I grew up in church. It’s a fact that I come from a very, very long line of Bible believing Christians. I did an ancestry search/study several years ago and found out this actually dates back to the 1600’s. (This won’t save you, by the way. Ask me about that later and I will gladly explain.) So, to say that I knew what was expected of me is a pretty obvious statement. I knew everything I was supposed to “do.” Well then, why was God only asking for only my time?
It took several weeks to find the congregation God wanted me to be apart of. All the while my Mom is a crying, blubbering, excited mess. The power of a fervently praying parent is nothing to shake a stick at.
When I did discover where God wanted me, it was almost immediately that I found where God wanted to use my time, EVERYWHERE. So, that’s what I did. If there was a need I filled it, usually subbing in the nursery or Sunday School when they were short handed.
It was a rare Sunday when everyone showed up ready to serve and I could rest. But, I never grieved anyone over it. It was a joy to serve and give God my time, just like he asked. I didn’t know it at the time, but this would become a model for later in life. I thoroughly enjoy working in the school system as a substitute teacher. Even on the rough days.
Sure there are ages and stages that I prefer over others, but if it is asked of me I go. That is really all God has asked of His children. You see, time is key. Time in His word. Time praying and talking with Him. Time serving His church. Time loving the lost. The thing is, none of His work can be completed if His children don’t give their time.
Your time is precious to God. Do you trust Him enough to let go of your time and allow God to use your time in the best way possible? Even if it means giving your time to tasks you don’t like or enjoy?
And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;
Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man:
And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary.
And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man;
Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.
And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith.
And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?
I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?
To this end…..(in light of what He had been talking about in the last chapter – the coming kingdom)
Men ought always to pray and not to faint
Prayer and persistence
Be thinking about your personal prayer life. How would you describe it to someone and would God agree with that description. (ouch!) What would be an acronym that describes your personal prayer life? For example ACTS….or would it be SSSS? Are you persistent or are you a “one and done” kind of pray-er?
The most basic definition of prayer is “talking to God.” Prayer is not meditation or passive reflection; it is direct address to God. It is the communication of the human soul with the Lord who created the soul. Prayer is the primary way for the believer in Jesus Christ to communicate his emotions and desires with God and to fellowship with God. – GotQuestions.org
Prayer is the Christian’s way of communicating with God. We pray to praise God and thank Him and tell Him how much we love Him. We pray to enjoy His presence and tell Him what is going on in our lives. We pray to make requests and seek guidance and ask for wisdom. God loves this exchange with His children, just as we love the exchange we have with our children. Fellowship with God is the heart of prayer. Too often we lose sight of how simple prayer is really supposed to be. – GodQuestions.org
Psalm 19:14 – wonderful verse to pray each morning
Philippians 4:6-7 – worry about nothing, pray about everything
1 Thessalonians 5:17 – pray without ceasing
Unjust judge – hmmmm
did not fear God
did not regard man
Prevailing and persistent prayer
God will avenge his own elect
AMPC – And will not (our just) God defend and protect and avenge His elect (His chosen ones), who cry to Him day and night? Will He defer them and delay help on their behalf?
NIV – And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off?
Shall He find faith?
AMP – However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find (this kind of persistent) faith on the earth?
EASY – I the Son of Man, will return to earth, but will I find many people that still believe in me then, or not?
And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation:
Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
We are only going to cover 2 verses this week. Please take the time to dig into these verses. Do a little research on the kingdom of God and what the Jews were looking for and what the Pharisees were afraid of.
Demanded when the kingdom of God should come
Still looking for the wrong kind of kingdom
Observation – here are two different quotes to ponder
The ancient Greek word translated observation is better-translated, hostile examination. Jesus told the Pharisees that their hostile, doubting eyes were unable to see or receive the kingdom of God. – Guzik
The word there in the Greek is a word that means with outward manifestation or an outward show. You’re not gonna see an outward display of the kingdom at this time. – Smith
Always looking for a sign
Kingdom of God
Those who fail to recognize the King cannot see His kingdom – MacArthur
King – they were not looking for a Savior
After all they were already righteous in their own eyes
And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.
And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off:
And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.
And when he saw them, he said unto them, go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.
And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God,
And fell down on hisface at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.
And Jesus answering said, were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine?
There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.
And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.
Right next to one another but couldn’t stand each other – hmmmm
Social Distancing (way worse than what we have just been through)
Crying Out to Jesus
When was the last time you cried out to Jesus?
Rituals vs Worship
All ten were willing to do a religious ceremony; that is go to the priest. Only one was filled with true praise and thanksgiving. “External religious exercises are easy enough, and common enough; but the internal matter, the drawing out of the heart in thankful love, how scarce a thing it is! Nine obey ritual where only one praises the Lord.” (Spurgeon)
This man alone out of the ten who were miraculously healed received the second miracle of salvation from sin. His trust, gratitude, humility, commitment, love, praise, and worship mark his faith in Jesus as the faith that saves. – MacArthur
Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come!
It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.
Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.
And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.
And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith.
And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.
But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat?
And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink?
Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not.
So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.
Lesson Outline for May 24, 2020
Jesus is talking to the disciples again. But I’m sure as usual, the Pharisees were still listening in to the conversation. Jesus is constantly using the Pharisees actions as examples of WHAT NOT TO BE. He as usual, doesn’t mince any words!
Verse 1 and 2
Offenses /Stumbling Blocks
Stumbling blocks translates the plural form of the noun skandalon, which referred originally to the bait stick in a trap. The world is filled with traps, which can seduce the unwary into error regarding the Scriptures, salvation, and living the Christian life. – MacArthur
How can you be a stumbling block?
How were the Pharisees being stumbling blocks?
Blasphemous lies about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Jealousy and fear led them to be stumbling blocks to all who would listen.
Eventually led to the Crucifixion
But Woe unto him
A millstone is a large stone used in a mill to grind wheat and/or other grains. Depending on its size, a millstone could weigh anywhere between 100 and 1000 pounds.
It is a very serious thing to tamper with someone’s faith in Jesus Christ!
Verses 3 and 4
We must be ready to forgive
If someone stumbles you deal with it and forgive them
Seven times in a day – really?
Seventy times seven – Matt 18:21-35
Forgiveness is the most God-like act a person can do.
Ephesians 4:15 – speak the truth in love
A Christian never has the right to be unkind
Christians need to remember that whoever offends has offended God more – Psalm 51:4
Matt 5:23-24 – unforgiveness affects our worship
Verses 5 and 6
Great faith is needed to get along with people like this!
Lord, Increase our faith!
Have you ever prayed this?
Reminds me of Mark 9:24 – Lord I believe; help thou mine unbelief
God help that area of my life where there is still unbelief
Disciples were probably saying….Lord, this is gonna be hard, I’m going to especially need your help to be able to do this forgiveness stuff!
Greek verb translated ”Increase” means:
To add to
“This work of pardoning every offence of every man, and that continually, seemed so difficult, even to the disciples themselves, that they saw, without an extraordinary degree of faith, they should never be able to keep this command.” (Clarke
Increase our faith: On this occasion, the disciples were extremely perceptive. They recognized that great faith in God is needed to get along with people in this forgiving, non-offending way. – Guzik
very large and deep root structure.
Growing 30 ft or more
Could stay rooted for 600 years
Little faith can accomplish great things; but great faith can accomplish even greater things. What matters most is what our faith is in, the object of our faith. “The eye cannot see itself. Did you ever see your own eye? In a mirror you may have done so, but that was only a reflection of it. And you may, in like manner, see the evidence of your faith, but you cannot look at the faith itself. Faith looks away to itself to the object of faith, even to Christ.” (Spurgeon)
You may have unforgiveness and bitterness that is deeply rooted within you; it may be like one of those trees that send down deep, strong roots. But through faith, Jesus can rip those roots clean out; it can be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea. – Guzik
Having a servant plowing or tending sheep: Jesus had just spoken to His disciples about great works possible by great faith. Here Jesus added some words meant to work against the pride that often rises when someone is used by God. – Guzik
Luke 14:11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.
Humble people reject honor
understand that nothing we do for God makes him indebted to us
Our duty to serve Him
Less than He deserves
Unworthy of the blessings He graciously gives
His pleasure before our own
His people before ourselves
His name before our own name
He deserves the praise of ALL people everywhere
When our hearts are right, we live and act as if we are happy to have the privilege of being allowed to serve God.
Not enough Christians have this attitude today. Instead, many today often want to project a “super-Christian” image that makes them seem to be anything but unprofitable servants. We only think that we are better than others are when we look to man, not Jesus. – Guzik
There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day:
And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores,
And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.
And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;
And in hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.
But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.
And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.
Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house:
For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.
Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.
And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.
And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.
Once again, I’m just doing an outline of what we will be talking about. Take the time to read the scripture and notes and then do some research before class. Looking forward to what you find about some of the topics mentioned this week.
Heaven or Hell?
Which would you rather hear a sermon on?
Do you think the average person really believes there is a hell?
Most people avoid talking about it.
Place of eternal, conscious torment
Everlasting Fire, outer darkness, weeping and gnashing of teeth
Fire that never shall be quenched; worm dieth not
Hell, Fire and Brimstone message?
Hell – cruel? Unkind? Unfair?
Would God really send someone to hell?
Tragic truth is that most people who end up in hell will be shocked to find themselves there!
A 2007 Gallup poll survey revealed that virtually all the people who believe in heaven also believe they will go there.
Which brings us to the lesson….There was a certain rich man
How rich was he?
Clothed in purple and fine linen
Challenge you to look up purple and fine linen and see how many times
they are in the KJV. Read about the making of the tabernacle.
Purple – Where did they get purple dye?
Fared sumptuously everyday
Fared: perform in a specified way in a particular situation or over a particular period of time
Fared sumptuously: “The word used for feasting is the word that is used for a gourmet feeding on exotic and costly dishes. He did this every day.” (Barclay)
Every day! Sounds pretty rich to me!
And there was a certain beggar (named Lazarus – unusual to find a person in a parable with an actual name)
What do we know about him
Was laying at the rich man’s gate
full of sores (which the dogs came and licked – yuck) and yes, I know the dog’s name was moreover
hungry – begging for food (would gladly have taken anything including the crumbs from the rich man’s table)
Fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: “Food was eaten with the hands and, in very wealthy houses, the hands were cleaned by wiping them on hunks of bread, which were then thrown away. This is what Lazarus was waiting for.” (Barclay)
The following came from John MacArthur Commentary.
The story of these two men is marked by extreme contrasts in life and shocking reversals after death. In life, one was enormously wealthy, the other an impoverished beggar. The rich man was inside the house, the poor man outside. The poor man had no food, the rich man had all the food he could eat. The poor man had needs, the rich man had none. The poor man desired everything, the rich man desired nothing. The poor man suffered, the rich man was satisfied. The poor man was humiliated, the rich man was honored. The poor man sought crumbs, the rich man feasted. The poor man needed help, the rich man gave him none. The poor man was a nobody, the rich man was well-known. The poor man had no dignity in death, not even a burial, the rich man had dignity in death and a lavish funeral. The poor man possessed no hope, the rich man possessed all hope.
After death, however, the situations of the two were completely reversed. The rich man became poorer than the poor man had ever been, while the poor man became richer than the rich man could have ever imagined. The poor man was on the inside (heaven), while the rich man was on the outside (hell). The poor man enjoyed the great heavenly banquet, while the rich man was totally deprived. The poor man needed nothing, the rich man lacked everything. The poor man had all his desires fulfilled, while the rich man’s desires would go eternally unfulfilled. The poor man was satisfied, while the rich man suffered. The poor man was happy, while the rich man was tormented. The poor man was honored, while the rich man was humiliated. The poor man enjoyed a lavish feast, while the rich man longed for a drop of water. The rich man desperately sought help, while the poor man was unable to provide it. The poor man had a name, while the rich man did not. The poor man had dignity, while the rich man had none. All of the poor man’s hopes were realized beyond what he could have imagined, while the rich man’s hopes vanished forever.
The rich man is the main character in the story. The poor man never speaks; his role is primarily to serve as the contrast to the rich man. The rich man’s words give the only testimony from hell found anywhere in the Bible.
Wow. That pretty much says it!
Lazarus died and was carriedbytheangelsintoAbraham’sbosom. (no burial, funeral, or earthly honor in death. His body would have been thrown onto the dump with those of the rest of society’s outcasts….)
Rich man died and was buried. Notice hewasn’t carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom!) Sure he had an elaborate funeral though.
And in hell (bet he was one who was surprised to be in hell – sure he was thinking that he would be in heaven)
Have mercy on me!
Send Lazarus…..(he asked for Lazarus twice)
They have Moses and the Prophets – let them hear them
But if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent
Neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead. (aren’t you glad that One did rise from the dead!
So, what do we take away from the lesson today? What does this mean to me?
Men may highly esteem you, but as far as God is concerned you’re an abomination. More on abomination later.
b. You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts: It is one thing to justify yourselves before men, because smooth words and a “loving” smile can deceive men. But God knows your hearts – when you serve another master, it is impossible to be justified before God, no matter what men think. – David Guzik
God knows your hearts
comfort or a curse?
1 Samuel 16:7
For that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable (abomination) in the sight of God.
God finds all false forms of religion exalted among men detestable (the Greek Word can refer to something that stinks; that is abominable, disgusting, revolting); that is, not at all a sufficient offering to satisfy Him. The world’s religious wisdom is mere foolishness in God’s sight. (Rom. 1:22; 1 Cor. 1:20) – John MacArthur
c. For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God: God judges our hearts with a different set of values. Men may honor someone because of their wealth or their public display of spirituality; but God sees who they really are. – David Guzik
Men may highly esteem you, but as far as God is concerned you’re an abomination. – Chuck Smith
Definition of abomination
: something regarded with disgust or hatred : something abominable : extreme disgust and hatred : LOATHING
John the Baptist
Last of the Old Testament Prophets
Old Testament era, the era of promise
First representative of the New Testament era
New Testament era, the era of fulfillment
His ministry bridged the two eras
John’s father, Zacharais, – Luke 1:67-79
Baptized Jesus – Matt 3
He must increase, but I must decrease – John 3:30
Since that time
A turning point
Kingdom of God (Good News of the Gospel) is now being preached – not just prophesied
The Messiah is now here – if they would only recognize him as the Messiah
Every Man presseth into it
The word press is a intense word in the Greek. It’s agonizo, must agonize into it.
Here are some other translations
AMPC – everyone strives violently to go in (would force his own way rather than God’s way into it)
NIV – everyone is forcing their way into it
CSB – everyone is urgently invited to enter it
HCSB – everyone is strongly urged to enter it
EASY – Everyone is now trying very much to get into that kingdom
NLT – everyone is eager to get in
ERV – everyone is trying hard to get into it
AMP – everyone tries forcefully to go into it
Words of Scripture – down to the smallest part of a letter – are divinely inspired.
Wow, now we are having “Sunday” School on “Wednesday” nights!
And he said also unto his disciples, There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods.
And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward.
Then the steward said within himself, What shall I do? for my lord taketh away from me the stewardship: I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed.
I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.
So he called every one of his lord’s debtors unto him, and said unto the first, How much owest thou unto my lord?
And he said, An hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty.
Then said he to another, And how much owest thou? And he said, An hundred measures of wheat. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and write fourscore.
And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.
And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.
He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.
If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?
And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own?
No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
Preparing for Heavenly Retirement. That is what I get from this. I have read commentary after commentary on this parable. It is not an easy passage of scripture to understand. Everyone has a different take on what it means. I have tried to give you lots of input from the main commentaries that I usually read each week. Also, a lot of this is just my thinking (that’s scary) so please keep that in mind. I guess this is my disclaimer in case I am totally off base! Anyway, hope to have a lot of discussion during our class this week.
First of all, let’s start off with the word steward.
A steward is someone who is employed to manage another’s property, especially a large house or estate.
Synonyms for Steward: manager, overseer, caretaker, custodian, agent
From what I can understand, the rich man hired this guy to oversee his property which included collecting any debts owed to him. I’m thinking that the debts were usually paid after a crop was harvested and possibly were paid with the crop itself (oil and wheat in this case). Just my guess.
Anyway, the rich man had heard that his steward (manager) was “wasting his goods”. Not sure exactly what the guy was doing, but whatever it was, the rich man was not happy when he found it out. In fact, he told him, get ready to go over the books with me, I’m giving you your notice…you will no longer be in my employment.
So the steward says to himself “what to do? What to do?” I can’t handle a regular job (not sure if it was his health or laziness or just the thought of manual labor) and I’m too ashamed to beg.
He decides that he needs to do something to secure his future. He is going need some friends when he is out of a job.
According to Dr. William Bean, it was discovered that in the first century, the master (the employer) did not pay the steward (the employee) a wage. Instead, a steward made his money by adding his fees onto the bills of his master’s debtors (the customers). When the debtor receives the bill from the steward, he does not know what amount on the bill belongs to the master and what amount belonged to the steward, only the steward would know. When the debtors would pay their bill to the steward, the steward would pocket his portion of the bill and then forward the remaining money to his master.
As this steward is called “unrighteous,” we can assume that he was placing an extraordinary high amount on the bills for his fee, in order to make large amounts of money, at the expense of his master and his master’s debtors. However, when he found out he was going to be fired, he took the debtors bills and reduced, or eliminated, the amount owed to him. Thereby currying favor with these debtors in the hopes that one of them may hire him due to his perceived “generosity.”
This explanation made verse 8 more understandable to me. The lord (notice it is not capitalized so I am taking it that it is the steward’s boss, not the LORD), commended him for being wise (shrewd) in that he made it look like he was lowering their bill, but he was actually just eliminating his part of the profit. As I see it, this way, his boss did not lose any more money in this deal.
As David Guzik put it
The steward, knowing he would be called to account, used his present position to prepare him for the next stage of his life.
He not only fixed at least part of the problem with his boss, but he also made some brownie points with some important people who he is figuring on helping him out when he loses his job! I don’t know if this helped him keep his job or not, but maybe it kept him out of jail!
He used his present position to prepare him for the next stage in life. Hmmm
I think it is talking about preparing (on this earth) for our life after death (heavenly retirement). What does Matthew 6:19-21 say about laying up treasures in heaven?
Now, how do we do that?
So if I’m going to set myself up in the heavenly kingdom, I must do it now and I must take advantage of the opportunities that I have now in order set myself up for the heavenly kingdom. And this is exactly what Jesus is saying. Make use of the unrighteousness of mammon. Make use of this filthy lucre (money). This money that God places at your disposal, make use of it in such a way that you will be reaping eternal benefits from it. Invest it in the things of the kingdom in such a way that when you failed, when you come to the end of the road, you might be received into the everlasting habitations. – Chuck Smith
e. So the master commended the unjust steward because he had dealt shrewdly: While not approving his conduct, the master did in fact approve the steward’s shrewdness. Jesus added the thought that the businessmen of his day (sons of this world) were more wise, bold, and forward-thinking in the management of what they had (more shrewd) than the people of God were with managing what they had (the sons of light).( David Guzik)
Jesus’ assessment is still true: the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light. If we pursued the Kingdom of God with the same vigor and zeal that the children of this world pursue profits and pleasure, we would live in an entirely different world. It could be said that it is to the shame of the Church that Coca-Cola is more widely distributed than the gospel of Jesus Christ. Simply, it is because the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light (David Guzik)
What does shrewd mean?
Having or showing sharp powers of judgment; astute.
So, let’s talk about this now. In verse 9-13, I think Jesus has ended the parable and now is just back to talking/teaching his disciples (and anyone listening – like the scribes and Pharisees). Since he has been on the subject of shrewdness, he is going to expand on that…Oh no, not another money sermon! Did you know that out of the nearly 40 parables, 1/3 of them dealt with money? I wonder why? Scripture says that the love of money is the root of all evil.
MacArthur really explains verse 9 in a way that I (simpleminded) could understand it.
Jesus exhorted His hearers to make friends for themselves by means of the wealth of the unrighteousness, so called because it belongs to this unrighteous, passing world. Unbelievers, like the unrighteous manager, often use money to buy earthly friends. Believers, on the other hand, are to use their money to evangelize and thus purchase heavenly friends. The wealth of unrighteousness, being an element of fallen society’s experience, cannot last past this present life. When it fails, the friends believers have gained through investing in gospel preaching will welcome them into the eternal dwellings of heaven. Those friends will be waiting to receive them when they arrive in glory because through their financial sacrifice for reaching the unconverted they heard and believed the gospel. The Lord calls for Christians to use their money for eternal purposes to produce a heavenly reward.
What was that last line? “The Lord calls for Christians to use their money for eternal purposes to produce a heavenly reward”.
How can we use the money the Lord has so graciously blessed us with shrewdly (wisely)?
If I had more money, I would certainly give more. Would you? How many times have we heard Bro. Charlie say, If you won’t give a dime out of a dollar then you won’t give $1 out of $10. And since we are just receiving stimulus money – how about $240 out of $2400? By the way, we are not under that 10% law anymore, we should be giving as the Lord has prospered us. So you decide is 10% really enough?
All that we have belongs to God and we are responsible to manage it to His Glory (Matt. 25:14-29).Jesus then goes on to expand in verses 10–13 the principle given in verse 9. If one is faithful in “little” (i.e., “unrighteous” wealth), then one will be faithful in much. Similarly, if one is dishonest in little, he will also be dishonest in much. If we can’t be faithful with earthly wealth, which isn’t even ours to begin with, then how can we be entrusted with “true riches”? The “true riches” here is referring to stewardship and responsibility in God’s kingdom along with all the accompanying heavenly rewards. (GotQuestions.org)
Spurgeon once noted that each of us will have to give account of our stewardship regarding our time, our talents, our substance, and our influence.
Just like the steward in the parable that Jesus just taught, we too will have to one day give an account of our stewardship. It seems like we always feel hammered when tithing is brought up in a sermon. Well, what about the other things that Spurgeon just mentioned. Stewardship is not just about the money (although that is a very useful tool and can be used greatly in the spreading of the Gospel – makes Mrs. Virginia’s job as treasurer a lot easier too!). Reminds me of the song that Mike sometimes sings “Thank You for giving to the Lord, I am a life that was changed”. In your heavenly retirement will you hear this?
What about our time? I wonder just how much time each of us really spend alone with God each day? How much time we take to serve in the many opportunities that are available in our church as well as the many opportunities that we are given outside the walls of the church each day. I know, they are all on the outside of the walls of the church right now! God has such a sense of humor. Maybe we are too comfortable with our pew (chair)! Right now, as we are social distancing and staying home as much as possible, we should have lots of time (sorry moms and dads with children – I know it’s not easy for you being cooped up at home with the kids) to spend alone with God. Are we taking advantage of it?
What about our talents? And don’t say you do not have a talent. God can use you in some area of your life, you just need to allow him to. If nothing else, you can pick up the phone and actually call someone and encourage them.
Our substance? – Everything you have belongs to God. Use it for His Glory! If you look up the word substance in the dictionary it can be used in a variety of ways. But I believe here it is meaning “wealth and possessions”. Similar words are: wealth, fortune, riches, affluence, prosperity, money, capital, means, resources, assets, property, estates, possessions.
The capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something, or the effect itself.
Similar words are: effect, impact, authority, leadership, guidance, direction
Wow. Are you using your influence for good?
So, we come to the last verse of the lesson. One that we have heard many, many times.
“We cannot serve God and mammon”.
God has to be first. He cannot just be at the top of your list of priorities. He must be your priority. Choose you this day whom you will serve!
Are you getting ready for your heavenly retirement as much as you are getting ready for your earthly retirement? Your money, time, talents, influence can only be sent ahead of you to heaven. You can’t just hoard them now and take them with you when you go.
And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living.
And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.
And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.
And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.
And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.
And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!
I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee,
And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.
And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.
And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.
But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:
And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry:
For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.
Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard music and dancing.
And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant.
And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound.
And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him.
And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends:
But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.
And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.
It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.
Last week we talked about the parable of the “one little lost lamb” and the “lost coin” and how we should be rejoicing in the fact that we were once lost but now found and for “anyone” who is saved. If you remember, the Pharisees were murmuring against Jesus for being with sinners, even eating with them. Jesus continued to teach them using the parables, letting them know that “there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth. Even if it was someone the Scribes and Pharisees wouldn’t be seen with! I don’t know about y’all, but I am very thankful that God doesn’t play that game.
Jesus continues with his parable of “The Prodigal Son”. Now, I’m sitting here thinking of how many different sermons and Sunday school lessons I have heard or read about this portion of scripture. You can look at it from a lot of different angles. But first, please read what Chuck Smith, David Guzik and John MacArthur have to say about it.
So we so often hear marvelous sermons preached from the parable of the prodigal son, but rarely do we ever hear a message that really gives the true meaning of the parable, or the real reason for the parable. The reason wasn’t just to show the father receiving with joy a son that was lost, but the parable was used to show the Pharisees how wrong was their condemnation of Him when they said, “He receives sinners and eats with them.” They should have been rejoicing over it, rather than griping over it. – Chuck Smith
i. In each of the parables, the message to the tax collectors and sinners was clear: repent, come home to the father. The message to the religious leaders was also clear: be happy when the lost are found, when they repent and come home to the father. (Guzik)
Like the parables of the lost sheep and the lost coin, this parable depicts God’s joy over the salvation of the lost. But while the first two parables emphasize God’s part in seeking sinners this third one, while touching on God as the seeker, focuses more on the human aspect of salvation – man’s sin, rejection, repentance, and return to God. It is a dramatic, moving story of the sinner’s desperate penitence and of God’s love and eager forgiveness for such sorrow. (MacArthur)
Pretty much hits the nail on the head! Not sure what else I can say. Nevertheless, I will do my best to pull out a few nuggets to discuss with you.
Wasn’t Jesus the ultimate story teller?
Three Characters of the story
FYI: According to what I can understand, under the law, when someone had 2 sons, the older son got 2/3rds of the inheritance and the younger son got 1/3rd.
Well, the younger son (spoiled probably – I am the youngest in my family so I can say this) was not happy at home evidently, so he asked his Father to please go ahead and give him his inheritance. He wanted to see how the rest of the world lived! His Father, probably reluctantly, gave him what he asked for.
Now, our Heavenly Father, does this to us sometimes, He gives us what we ask for knowing that we will be learning a hard lesson. (reminds me of that song, “Thank God for unanswered prayers”!)
Never paid attention to the fact that verse 12 says: and he divided unto THEM his living. So I’m guessing that the father in this story kinda now had what we now call a “Life Estate” (continue to possess and use the property as a “life tenant” for as long as you live). Keep this in mind until we get to the part of the older brother!
Now can you imagine what the neighbors said? I’m sure news traveled fast about what was going on at the farm!
It didn’t take the younger son long to get packed and get out of dodge. He didn’t hang around home to spend his inheritance, he went to a far country.
As MacArthur says “he wanted to sin beyond the range of all accountability, far away from his father and the villagers, who scorned him for his disgraceful behavior. His action symbolizes the foolishness of the sinner trying to flee from God, to whom he does not want to be answerable.”
And wasted his inheritance with riotous living. He probably had a lot of “new found friends” to help him waste his inheritance. But after he had spent it all, there happened along a mighty famine in that far country. And he began to get hungry! I’m sure all his new friends had all went their separate ways after the money run out. Here he was, alone, and hungry.
He was so hungry and desperate that he actually took a job feeding swine. Now you know he was pretty desperate to do that. Jews were not allowed to do anything that involved pigs!
Now as he was feeding the pigs, he was so hungry that he was even considering joining the pigs for supper!
This being on your own stuff wasn’t as great as he had imagined. He found himself bankrupt, empty, destitute, hungry, alone with no one to help him. Can you imagine what was going through his mind. What am I going to do? I’ve really messed up this time. Oh if I could just go back to my Father’s house!
In verse 17, scripture says, “He came to himself”. He had an “aha” moment.
MacArthur says “the younger son’s actions picture the kind of repentance that can lead to salvation. He came to his senses and realized that his situation was desperate. He remembered his father’s goodness, compassion, generosity, and mercy and trusted in them. In the same way, the repentant sinner takes stock of his situation and acknowledges his need to turn from his sin. He realizes that there is no one to turn to except the Father whom he has shamed and dishonored and by faith, with nothing to offer, turns to Him for forgiveness and reconciliation on the basis of His grace.
Now, the younger son is thinking….if I was to go back home, my Father will hopefully at least let me be one of his hired servants.
Verse 18-19 is his rehearsal speech to his Father.
I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son; make me as one of thy hired servants.
I don’t know how long it took him to get back home, there is no telling how many times he rehearsed this in his mind on the way.
Haven’t we all done this. Rehearsed in our mind what we will say to someone. It rarely turns out the way we had rehearsed it! This was no exception.
Verse 20 says… when he was still a long way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.
I love this verse. This is a picture of what God does when we finally come to our senses and repent and come back to Him!
In Verse 21 he tells his father what he has been rehearsing in this heart and mind. But the Father was just so glad to have him back home where he belonged (verse 22-24) says that he told his servants: Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoesonhisfeet. Andbringhitherthefattedcalf, andkillit; andletuseat, andbemerry: Forthismysonwasdead, andisaliveagain; hewaslost, andisfound.
Shoes on the feet were significant, because the slaves were never given shoes, only the family members, the son. Slaves were never given shoes by their masters. That is why in that old Negro spiritual that came out of the slave days, “You gotta shoes, I gotta shoes, all God’s children got shoes. When we get to heaven gonna put on our shoes.” I am not going to be a slave any more. I am a son. I am a child of God. And that hymn looked forward to that day when they would have shoes. They would be acclaimed the sons of God in that heavenly kingdom. That was just one thing about slavery, you never gave your slave a pair of shoes. – Chuck Smith
I thought this was interesting. Most of the sermons or lessons you hear on this parable highlight the robe, ring and fatted calf.
Can you imagine what the Pharisees and Scribes were thinking at this moment?
How could he have just welcomed him back like that?
He should have maintained his honor by refusing to see him.
Make him wait for a few days in shame.
He should make him work to repay the inheritance he has squandered.
Probably thinking of all the rabbis’ teachings of that day that would have required such things.
But the Father! Oh how he loved him. He was watching and waiting for him to come home. Can you just imagine him sitting out on the porch each day just hoping that today would be the day that his son would come back home. He had probably rehearsed in his mind what his actions would be too. And they were nothing like what the prodigal son had imagined.
Finally, he sees his son coming! He takes off running. Now that in itself was unheard of. Especially for a man of his status. In order to run you had to gather up the long robe and in doing so, your legs were exposed, which was considered shameful. But he didn’t care about that. He only knew that this, his son, was back home.
Did you notice that the son didn’t say the part about “make me one of your hired servants”? He didn’t have to. Why?
MacArthur tells us why? “Because there was no need to work to earn restoration and reconciliation. His father had received him back as a son. He did not have to crawl back one day at a time into his father’s good graces, but was instantly forgiven, given mercy, and already reconciled. The son’s reception is a true illustration of believers, who come in by repentance and faith directed toward God, pleading for His grace and forgiveness apart from works – and receiving full sonship.
Now the older brother (who had by the way, been home with the Father all this time, working the family farm, being obedient!) came home and asked what was going on. When he found out, he was very mad and stayed outside and pouted. His true feelings came to the surface.
He should have been thrilled to see that his younger brother was back home, safe and sound. But he wasn’t. He, of course, represents the scribes and Pharisees in this story and does a good job at it. Jesus was good at casting the right person to portray them! You ever watch a movie and say “gosh, they really play that part well”. Well, the older brother really played the part well of the scribes and Pharisees. I’m sure they were really into this part of the story.
The Father came out to see why he wouldn’t come in and celebrate, but I guess this was the breaking point of the older son. He had probably been rehearsing in his mind for a while too what he would say if given the opportunity. Bitterness can get to you after a while.
There was a sense in which the older son was obedient, yet far from his father’s heart. In this sense he was a perfect illustration of the religious leaders who were angry that Jesus received tax collectors and sinners. “Hisstoryrevealsthepossibilityoflivinginthefather’shouseandfailingtounderstandthefather’sheart.” (Morgan)
The problem with the older son was that he was lost. He too needed to come back to his Father.
Verse 31-32 is the father’s response.
And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.
It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.
Remember earlier we talked about the “life estate” that the Father had in the family farm. He had dispersed it to his two sons but still had the right to live there. “All that I have is thine”. Remember, the younger son had taken his part, now the whole farm technically belonged to the older brother. The older brother had been “working” the farm all this time. He felt he had earned the right for his Father to throw him a party.
Isn’t that a picture of working for your salvation. The younger son realized that he couldn’t handle this world by himself, he still needed his Father. He came to his senses (realized that he was a sinner) and came back to his Father. The older brother, of course, felt like he had earned his place with his Father.
So, what can we learn from this parable?
Envy, Jealousy, Bitterness, Anger, Pouting?
Faith saves, not works
Remember that the whole 15th chapter of Luke is Jesus’s response to the Scribes and Pharisees after they were “murmuring” about his receiving sinners and tax collectors. We should be thrilled every time a soul is saved. No matter who they are or what the world perceives them to be.
May God help us that we will not have a Pharisaical attitude towards the work of God in receiving sinners, because maybe He is receiving them at some other church in the county rather than here. It doesn’t matter where He receives them. Let us rejoice that He is receiving them. Let us pray that God will send a great spiritual wakening throughout the county in every church. Let us not be so shortsighted and narrow-minded that we are only praying for God’s blessing upon CalvaryChapel, NEW HOPE. But let us begin to really pray that God will revive His church throughout this entire county and that sinners would be brought to Christ, that the Lord might receive sinners anywhere and everywhere, that there might be revival. – Chuck Smith
(I took the liberty to insert NEW HOPE!)
Ok, so, what did the older brother do? I’ll leave you with that question. Jesus’ story doesn’t tell us. So let me hear what you think happened?