God Wants My Time

By: Stephanie Sanchez

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.

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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? 

Are you willing to give God your time?

Thanksgiving 2020

                                                       (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

I spoke to you a couple of weeks ago about gratefulness. One of the most profound statements to me in that sermon was this. 

Someone once said that gratitude is the source for all other Christian virtues. If that be the case, then perhaps we need to reason that ingratitude may well be the source of all, or at least much of our vileness, our depravity as well.

In the letter to the Thessalonians, Paul gives out instructions to this congregation on how to not only survive but thrive. He speaks of rejoicing, praying, even being careful not to quench the Holy Spirit. He also lays out for all to see what God’s will, His desire, His plan for those who trust Him is.

In everything give thanks:

for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

1 Thessalonians 5:18

It really is the will of God to live a grateful life.

What do we know about gratitude and being grateful?

Often we hear things like; well I’m grateful in my heart, but I’m just not very good at showing it. But you know my heart. 

No I don’t know your heart, what am I, a cardiologist? I don’t know your heart, unless you say it and show it.

I want to give you three things to help us grasp a biblical understanding of gratitude.

  • True gratefulness, gratitude is never invisible or silent.
    • My Lord said:

(Lu 6:45) A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.

  • When your heart is grateful, it’ll overflow to your mouth. 
    • When you’re grateful, you’ll say it and you’ll show it. 
    • When you’re grateful to God, you’ll tell Him, and you’ll show Him, you won’t just assume that He knows, 
    • When you’re grateful to God for others, you’ll tell them, and you’ll show them.
    • If you’re grateful in your heart… out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. 
      • So if you’re not speaking it, your heart isn’t really grateful.
    • Some like to say,” well I’m just not that type…
      • Can I say this one more time?… for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.
    • From the overflow of your heart, the mouth has to speak, and if you’re really grateful it will show up in your life, through your words and your actions.
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  • Have you ever received something special or seen someone who has received? 
    • Often they break down with emotion. They can’t speak, they are overwhelmed and the face, body, their being shows it.
    • I’ve seen proud, ungrateful people get mad. Get bitter. Feeling now they have to do something
      • But I’ve seen grateful people humbly, lovingly, gratefully, accept and not feel they have to do something of equal value.
    • Now, if we can be that thankful for a special touch from someone, then I know the church of Jesus Christ ought to be able to give God the same kind of praise, for sending His son Jesus Christ to die on the cross. 
      • To set us free forever from our sin and guilt.
      •  Giving us eternal life,
    •  Are there any grateful people here today? 
      • Is there anybody who isn’t just grateful in your heart, but you’re willing to show it with your life, you’re willing to shout it with your mouth?
    • Now I know that you have to be real, I know that you can’t walk around all the time saying, praise the Lord, about everything, or you’ll sound phony,
      • I’m telling you, most of us are in no danger of being too grateful to God. That’s not what we’re struggling with.
      • Gratitude is never invisible or silent
  • Gratitude Sustains Joy and Blessing.
    • A piano has three foot pedals below its keys. The one on the far right is the damper pedal also known as the sustain pedal.
      • When this pedal is depressed it lifts the dampers off the keys allowing the sound to be prolonged.
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  • Does anybody here remember a time in your life when you relieved an offense over and over again, 
    • Somebody hurt you and you replayed that in your mind a 100 times, through bitterness.
    • There is a perverted power or pedal in our mind that enables you to re-live an offense over and over again because of bitterness and un-forgiveness.
    • If you’re a follower of Christ and the Holy Spirit is in you, then by the perfect power of the Holy Spirit, ,( the regenerated pedal)  you can relive the blessing of God over and over and over again, and you can sustain the blessing of God.
      • Even when your situation starts to go bad, or even when someone hurt you today, you can flash back to the times in your life when God was faithful, and He worked it out, and He blessed you.
      • It depends on what note you’re wanting to prolong?
      • Gratitude sustains joy and blessing in your life.
  • Lastly, and very powerful! Gratitude Begins Where My Sense of Entitlement Ends.
    • You cannot be grateful for something that you feel entitled to.
      • That’s why people don’t write thank you notes to the IRS when they get a tax refund.
    • If you start to feel entitled to something, then your gratefulness just immediately ends.
      • It’s gone, disappeared, the moment you feel entitled.
    • When you first became a Christian and you felt that forgiveness and grace of God.
      • You realized what Christ had done for you on the cross, and the huge price He paid so you could be part of His family, you feel so grateful, so blessed. But what happens?
      • Over time you start to take it for granted, and you start to feel entitled. 
    • It is an honor to be allowed to serve Him, even the privilege of knowing Him is a huge blessing.
      • How in the world can we ever start to think we’re entitled to any of that?
      • We’re not entitled to any of it, but we are hugely blessed by God, and we ought to be extremely grateful.
    • Now, the unfortunate truth is, some people in the church do feel entitled. 
      • We get the privilege to teach a class, sing a song, lead in silent prayer all of a sudden it’s ours for life.
  • Let me close with this:
    • Gratitude is never invisible or silent. Gratitude Sustains Joy and Blessing. Gratitude Begins Where My Sense of Entitlement Ends.

To the chief Musician upon Muthlabben, A Psalm of David.

I will praise thee, O LORD, with my whole heart; I will shew forth all thy marvelous works.

Psalms 9:1

  • Are you grateful for what God has done in your life? 
    • What He has allowed you to be a part of?
    • For those He is letting in to be to carry on?

Do you really know Him? 

Does it show? 

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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?

Sunday School 5/24/20

Mrs. Joyce Hicks

Luke 17:1-10

  • 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

Inevitable

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.

Rebuke him

  • Matt 18:15-17
  • 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
  • Supplement
  • Develop
  • Grow

“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

Sycamine Tree

  • 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

Verses 7-10

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
  • Attitude
  • 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

Sunday School

May 6, 2020

Mrs. Joyce Hicks

Luke 16:14-18

  • And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided him.
  • And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.
  • The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.
  • And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.
  • Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery.

I’m going to do these notes a little differently today.  Going to use a kind of outline.  Please be patient with me. Want to get you engaged in class as much as possible. 

Verse 14:

Pharisees

  • Covetous (most versions say “lovers of money”)
  • Motivated by Greed
  • Obsessed with riches and wealth
  • Corban (Mark 7:11) – this is sad! 
  • Luke 20:46-47
  • Matt:6:2

Heard all these things. 

What things? 

What had Jesus just been talking about?

Derided:  “The word literally means that they turned up their noses at him.”     (Barclay)

            Dictionary says:

  • Deride: express contempt for; ridicule
  • Similar words:  ridicule, mock, jeer at, scoff at, jibe at, make fun of, poke fun at, laugh at, disdain, dismiss, slight, sneer at, scorn, taunt, insult, torment, treat with contempt,

Usual response when someone doesn’t want to hear truth.

Verse 15:

            Justify yourselves before men

                   Justify:         

show or prove to be right or reasonable

 Synonyms        give grounds for, give reasons for, give a justification for, show just cause for, explain, give an explanation for, account for, show/prove to be reasonable, provide a rationale for, rationalizedefend, answer for, vindicatesubstantiateupholdsustainestablishlegitimizelegitimatize

be a good reason for

synonyms         warrant, be good reason for, be a justification for, bear out, confirmvalidate

declare or make righteous in the sight of God

            Before men

                        Mark 12:38-40

                        Matt. 23:5-7

                        Matt. 6:1-2, 5, 16

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?
  • Scary thought?
  • Sobering thought?

            Matt 23:27-28

            1 Samuel 16:7

            Matt 6:17-18

            John  2:24-25

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

Verse 16

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

Messiah’s forerunner

Matt 11:11

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

Verse 17

Words of Scripture – down to the smallest part of a letter – are divinely inspired.

Matt 5:18

Matt 24:35

Verse 18

Divorce – Pharisees – loopholes

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?

Sunday School 4/12/2020

Mrs. Joyce Hicks

April 12

Thought I would start off with a funny story.

The Reverend Billy Graham told a story about a time early in his ministry when he arrived in a small town to preach a sermon. He wanted to mail a letter first so he asked a young boy where the post office was. After the boy had told him, Dr. Graham thanked him and said, “If you’ll come to the Church this evening, you can hear me telling everyone how to get to Heaven.” “I don’t think I’ll be there,” the boy said. “You don’t even know your way to the post office.”

Luke 15:1-10

  • Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him.
  • And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.
  • And he spake this parable unto them, saying,
  • What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?
  • And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.
  • And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.
  • I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.
  • Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it?
  • And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost.
  • Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.

God loves each of us like there was only one of us!

One little lost lamb!

Lost and Found!

God’s Relentless Love!

I once was lost but now I am found!

God Pursues!

Search and Rescue!

Joy, Joy, unspeakable Joy!

As I was sitting here reading the scripture, all the above sermon titles, sayings, song lyrics, came into my mind.  

God loves each of us like there was only one of us!  That is so hard for me to fathomYet I know it is trueI am so thankful that “He loves us, O how He loves us”! There is no way to describe this love.  We love our spouse, we love our children, we love our grandchildren, we love our family (most of them – some of them we have a hard time liking but we do love them!).  But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).  (this is one of our VBS verses this year – look on our facebook page, there is a song to help you memorize it).

One Little Lost Lamb!  In reading the scripture it says that the Shepherd leaves the 99 sheep and goes to look for the one little lost lamb.  I remember studying the 23rd psalm years ago.  In that study it painted a picture of a lamb that was constantly wandering away (like us) from the flock and the Shepherd would have to go out looking for him.  The story goes, that the Shepherd finally took the little lamb in his arms and as gently (if it is possible to do this gently) as he could, broke his leg.  He then carefully wrapped the leg.  He then would carry the lamb until he was able to walk again on his own. The little lamb would not be wandering away anytime soon and hopefully learned his lesson.  The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not wantHe maketh me to lie down in green pastures.   Sometimes the Lord has to “break our leg” (so to speak) so that we will stop wandering away from Him.  Hmmm, this “social distancing” and “stay at home” stuff could be his way of reminding us we need to lie down in green pastures, safe in His Arms for awhile.  Now I’m not saying that the Lord caused this stuff, but I know he can use it to bring back some of the “little lost lambs” to Him.  Bro. Charlie shared a post on facebook that said “So, Corona has us homeschooling, praying, spending time with the family, praying for others, and being sober minded.  Sounds like God is in control.  This isn’t a plague, it is an awakening.”

Here I am, here I am!  I’m the one the Shepherd left the fold and found.  There were ninety and nine, but He left the fold to find, One little lost lamb, and here I am.

Lost and Found!  Ever lose something.  You search “high and low”, in “every nook and cranny”, “inside and out”, “upstairs and downstairs” (for those of you who have upstairs!), “everywhere I know to look”.  And then you find it!  Hallelujah!  You put it on facebook, you do your happy dance or whatever you do when you are excited about something.   Our scripture says “there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth” and “joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over the ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance”.

During Monday night prayer last week, “one little lost lamb” was found.  Robbie Walker is now in the fold.  The angels were rejoicing.  Were you?  I’m afraid we just casually say “Praise the Lord”, but we should be rejoicing! Doing our happy dance!  Another soul has been saved!  (this was an ouch for me).  God really hammered me as I was typing this.

God’s relentless love! 

Relentless.  : showing or promising no abatement of severity, intensity, strength, or pace : unrelenting

Synonyms:  determined, unflinching, unrelenting, unyielding

So thankful for this.  Where would we be without it?

I once was lost but now I’m found!  I hope this describes you.  We need to be vigilant in our prayers in this crazy time that we are living in.  There is so much at stake.  We need to take every opportunity to make sure our family and friends know what it is to be found!  If this doesn’t describe you, then please do something about it before it is too late.  (I am available to talk and pray with you – just call).

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me, I once was lost, but now I’m found, was blind but now I see!

God Pursues!

Synonyms for pursue:  Bird-dog, chase, follow, hound, run, shadow, tag, tail, trace, track, trail.

Just as the Shepherd in our scripture “goes after” the one which is lost, God pursues us.  Ever feel like every sermon the preacher preaches is directed solely at you?  You think, how did he know that?  Has he been following me around?  No, he hasn’t but God has!  He is on a Search and Rescue mission.   As the song goes, “There’s no shadow You won’t light up, Mountain You won’t climb up, Coming after me.  There’s no wall You won’t kick down, Lie You won’t tear down, Coming after me.”

Joy, Joy, Unspeakable Joy!

Joy, joy, unspeakable joy, Hope like never before, You came for us, You are our freedom.

Our scripture talks about the Joy in heaven and it also talks about the rejoicing of the Shepherd when he found the one lost sheep and the woman saying “rejoice with me”. 

Even in these trying times, we can have the Joy of the Lord. 

Nehemiah 8:10  The Joy of the Lord is our Strength

Romans 12:12   Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18  Rejoice evermore.  Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

Joy is a deep and enduring state of our soul that no circumstance, event, or human can steal away from us.  It’s delighting in God and choosing to rejoice in all things.  Because our circumstances don’t rule us, our mood swings are nonexistent.  This doesn’t mean we are always in a “good mood” but we can remain in an unexplainable place of contentment.  Joyful people don’t allow misery, sorrow, sadness, or despair to rule their thoughts or actions. (from Fruit of the Spirit devotional).

MacArthur says this….God’s joy is the source of believers joy; it is a component of the kingdom of God dispensed by the Holy Spirit to the redeemed.  While Christians are blessed with a rich measure of joy in this life, the full joy of eternal perfection awaits them in heaven when as faithful slaves they “enter into the joy of their master”.  Believers’ highest joy in this life does not come from the trivial, insignificant, temporal things of this world, but in the spiritual life and fellowship of lost sinners found, restored, and united in Christ’s true church.  Believers’ joy, as God’s joy, is the result of the greatness and glory of God’s saving work.

Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God

Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine

I couldn’t earn it, and I don’t deserve it, still, You give Yourself away

Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God.

(I can hear Hannah Poole singing this…such a beautiful voice and such a beautiful song – miss them!)

This song really says it! 

Ok.  So, back to the scripture. 

In today’s scripture Jesus was accused of receiving sinners and eating with them. The rest of Chapter 15 is Jesus’ response to this accusation.  The Pharisees and Scribes just didn’t get the fact that God loves EVERYONE and wants EVERYONE to be saved. I’m sure the parables about a Shepherd (on the lower end of society) and a Women (Oh my goodness, not a woman!) were not what they were wanting to hear.

MacArthur says:  The Scribes and Pharisees did not find joy in Jesus’ mission of saving sinners.  They claimed to know God, but in truth were ignorant of the heart of God toward the lost.  They were just another generation like those whom Isaiah described as hypocrites who “draw near with their words and honor Me with their lip service, but they remove their hearts far from Me.” (Isa. 29:13).   

“Joy” in seeing sinners being saved.  

Are we really “joyful” when a sinner comes to Jesus?  Oh sure, we say the proper things but are we really “joyful” or are we thinking in our hearts something different?  “I hope he’s serious”…”I hope this lasts”…”I hope she understands what she is doing”….Does our hearts feel differently depending on who it is? OUCH!  I am more like the Scribes and Pharisees than I want to admit.   Please forgive me Lord!  Psalm 19:14 Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O, Lord, my strength and my redeemer.

Vs 7 says I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth…

Vs 10 says Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that WHOSOEVER believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

We all are a “WHOSOEVER” no matter WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN and WHY.  Jesus makes the difference!

Joy, Joy, Unspeakable Joy! 

Let’s share the Joy.

Remember, God loves each of us like there was only one of us! We were once one little lost lamb, lost and then found because of God’s Relentless Love.  God pursued me, sent out a search and rescue, and now I can have Joy, Joy, Unspeakable Joy.  Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God!

P.S.  As I am writing this, it is more than a week until you will read it, in fact, it will be Easter Morning.  I know that this will be a different Easter than usual.  No “breakfast on the ground” at church after the Sunrise Service (which will be a “drive in”). No Easter Play at church on Sunday morning (I’m hoping this will still happen at a later date – who says you can’t have an Easter Play any Sunday of the year?  Every Sunday should be Easter!  No gathering with family to eat, visit and hunt eggs. Of course, I’m sure parents will get creative with their egg hunting this year.  But maybe, just maybe, this will be a special Easter to remember.  The year that we really took the time to discover what Easter really means. (No excuses this year, you can’t go anywhere). My prayer for you this Easter morning is that you will read God’s Word, Meditate on it, Pray, and discover the Victorious Story of Jesus and how He died for each one of us like we were the only one.  But, the Story doesn’t end there.  Up From the Grave he AROSE!  Hallelujah, Christ AROSE!  

You’re thankful for who?!

Most people when you ask them what they are thankful for they will say, “I am thankful for my family!” Little children will name off a list of toys and toss mommy and daddy in there. Most Christians will start off with being thankful for the saving grace of Jesus Christ and the list goes on from there.

November will be here before we know it and Facebook will be loaded with the “what I am thankful for” ever day for a month, from who knows how many people. Almost everyone one who does this names the wonderful blessings in their lives, the people they love and who love them back, the vacation they got to take this year or the one coming up. You get the gist. It’s always positive stuff. No one ever says I’m thankful because my husband had to go to the hospital this year, or my sister got shot this year, or that I have a humongous wart on the bottom of my foot that makes me limp. Nope, not gonna hear that from people. At least not social media people.

I refer back to Sunday School a lot these days. This is where it really starts! The building blocks, or Legos of a Christians understanding of the Bible. But you can’t just go to Sunday School and expect to gain expert knowledge of Scripture. You have to do some studying of you own, and pray for understanding. Lately though in Sunday School we have been in Luke, we have made it to Chapter 9. In a week or so we’ll get to Chapter 10. Jesus is going to start his journey to Jerusalem. So I decided to stop, go back and do a recap.

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Listening this morning about when Jesus called the twelve, all the names were read, the last of course being “Judas Iscariot who also became a traitor.” (Luke 6:16) Then my brain, lovely creature that it is, had multiple thoughts at one time. Which I am sharing with you now.

Jesus chose Judas, I believe knowing what he would do. Jesus knew why He(Jesus) was here, He came here for a purpose. He knew who Judas was in his(Judas’) heart, all the time. He still chose him to be apart of his ministry, to be in charge of the money, to be close by his side.

Yet when we as Christians read about Judas we sit back and think how could he, why did he? If we were that close we might have done what Peter did but we would never have done what Judas did!! We think so low of Judas, not realize where we would be with out his part in all of this.

I’m sure if he had not done what he had done someone else would, but that is speculation and we aren’t going there. My point in all of this is, yes I am truly thankful for My Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and everything he has done for me, and continues to do for me, on a daily basis, but have I ever thought to be thankful for Judas.

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I spoke earlier about a husband in the hospital, a sister being shot and a wart on a foot. These are all bad things that have happened to myself or someone I know. I have watch though as Jesus has taken the messes we have gotten ourselves into picked us up, brushed us off and not only were we and our family better off after the fact but our relationships are growing in a better direction.

It is hard to see the big picture when we can only see straight ahead. Good thing Jesus is in heaven and can see the whole thing. It is awesome for us to be thankful for the things in our lives. But when it all starts hitting the fan and splattering on the walls, remember that the clean up crew is going to be thankful, because that’s job security for them. When the garbage is piled up and you’ve taken it out, the trash pick up guys are thankful as well.

Our perspective on things and how we think about them needs to change I believe. November is approaching fast, so when those thankful list start popping up take time to truly be thankful for the things that made a difference in you life this year, not just the things that made you happy. Be thankful for the those people that you might not like and who test your patience on a daily basis, because they have made you a better person.

Thank you for reading, may His Son shine on you and yours.

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