Sunday School

6/7/2020

Mrs. Joyce Hicks

Luke 17:20-21

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
  • Nervous

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
    • Jesus did not fit their expectations of a King
    • Nothing regal
  • King of Kings – Do you know Him?

Mrs. Joyce Hicks

Wednesday, April 29th

Wow, now we are having “Sunday” School on “Wednesday” nights!

Luke 16:1-13

  • 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.

Similar words are:

  • Sharp-witted, sharp, intelligent, clever, alert, canny, perceptive, observant, wise, far-seeing, far-sighted, cunning, smart, savvy,

Opposite:

  • Stupid, unwise

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.

Our influence?

  • 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.

Sunday School 4/29/2020

Sunday School 4/19/2020

Mrs. Joyce Hicks

April 19th

Luke 15: 11-32

  • And he said, A certain man had two sons:
  • 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

  • Younger son
  • Father
  • Older son

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!

            Murmuring, Shame, Scorn, Disgraceful, Foolish, Dishonorable…..

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 shoes on his feetAnd bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merryFor this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.  

  • 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. “His story reveals the possibility of living in the father’s house and failing to understand the father’s heart.” (Morgan)

Wow! 

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?

Repentance?

Compassion?

Forgiveness?

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 Calvary Chapel, 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?