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 5/31/2020

Mrs. Joyce Hicks

Luke 17:11-19

  • And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.
  • And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off:
  • And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.
  • And when he saw them, he said unto them, go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.
  • And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God,
  • And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.
  • And Jesus answering said, were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine?
  • There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.
  • And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.

Outline

Samaria/Galilee

  • Right next to one another but couldn’t stand each other – hmmmm

Leprosy

            Social Distancing (way worse than what we have just been through)

            Outcasts

            Laws

Crying Out to Jesus

            When was the last time you cried out to Jesus?

Rituals vs Worship

All ten were willing to do a religious ceremony; that is go to the priest. Only one was filled with true praise and thanksgiving. “External religious exercises are easy enough, and common enough; but the internal matter, the drawing out of the heart in thankful love, how scarce a thing it is! Nine obey ritual where only one praises the Lord.” (Spurgeon)

  • Naaman (2 Kings 5)

Ungrateful – Where are the nine?

  • Ungrateful:  not feeling or showing gratitude

Synonyms:  Unappreciative; unthankful, thankless, ungracious

  • We live in such an ungrateful society today.  It is the norm not the exception.
  • How often does anyone even say thank you? 
  • Age of entitlement

True Worship

  • Do we even know what that means?
  • Worship:  the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity.
  • Synonyms:  reverence, adoration, adoring, devotion, praise, thanksgiving, praising, glorifying, exaltation, extolling, homage, respect, honor, esteem, magnification
  • Adoration:  deep love and respect

“O Come let us adore Him”

Thy faith hath made thee whole

This man alone out of the ten who were miraculously healed received the second miracle of salvation from sin.  His trust, gratitude, humility, commitment, love, praise, and worship mark his faith in Jesus as the faith that saves. – MacArthur

Have you been made whole?

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

Mrs. Joyce Hicks

May 17, 2020

Luke 16: 19-31

  • There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day:
  • And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores,
  • And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.
  • And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;
  • And in hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
  • And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.
  • But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.
  • And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.
  • Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house:
  • For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.
  • Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.
  • And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.
  • And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.

Once again, I’m just doing an outline of what we will be talking about.  Take the time to read the scripture and notes and then do some research before class.  Looking forward to what you find about some of the topics mentioned this week.  

Heaven or Hell? 

2 paths

Which would you rather hear a sermon on?

Do you think the average person really believes there is a hell?

Most people avoid talking about it.

Place of eternal, conscious torment 

Everlasting Fire, outer darkness, weeping and gnashing of teeth

Fire that never shall be quenched; worm dieth not

Hell, Fire and Brimstone message?

Hell – cruel? Unkind? Unfair?

Would God really send someone to hell?

Tragic truth is that most people who end up in hell will be shocked to find themselves there! 

A 2007 Gallup poll survey revealed that virtually all the people who believe in heaven also believe they will go there.

Which brings us to the lesson….There was a certain rich man

How rich was he?

Clothed in purple and fine linen

Challenge you to look up purple and fine linen and see how many times

they are in the KJV.   Read about the making of the tabernacle. 

Purple – Where did they get purple dye?

Acts 16

Mark 15:17 

Fared sumptuously every day

Fared:  perform in a specified way in a particular situation or over a               particular period of time 

Sumptuous: splendid and expensive-looking

Similar words:  lavish, luxurious, deluxe, opulent, magnificent, gorgeous, Splendid, grand, extravagant, lush, princely, rich, costly,

Expensive, impressive, imposing, plush, ritzy, swanky, 

Opposite:  humble, plain, cheap

 Fared sumptuously: “The word used for feasting is the word that is used for a gourmet feeding on exotic and costly dishes. He did this every day.” (Barclay)

Every day! Sounds pretty rich to me!

And there was a certain beggar (named Lazarus – unusual to find a person in a parable with an actual name)

What do we know about him

Was laying at the rich man’s gate

full of sores (which the dogs came and licked – yuck) and yes, I know the dog’s name was moreover

hungry – begging for food (would gladly have taken anything including the crumbs from the rich man’s table)

 Fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: “Food was eaten with the hands and, in very wealthy houses, the hands were cleaned by wiping them on hunks of bread, which were then thrown away. This is what Lazarus was waiting for.” (Barclay)

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

The following came from John MacArthur Commentary.  

The story of these two men is marked by extreme contrasts in life and shocking reversals after death.  In life, one was enormously wealthy, the other an impoverished beggar.  The rich man was inside the house, the poor man outside.  The poor man had no food, the rich man had all the food he could eat.  The poor man had needs, the rich man had none.  The poor man desired everything, the rich man desired nothing.  The poor man suffered, the rich man was satisfied.  The poor man was humiliated, the rich man was honored.  The poor man sought crumbs, the rich man feasted.  The poor man needed help, the rich man gave him none.  The poor man was a nobody, the rich man was well-known.  The poor man had no dignity in death, not even a burial, the rich man had dignity in death and a lavish funeral.  The poor man possessed no hope, the rich man possessed all hope.

After death, however, the situations of the two were completely reversed.  The rich man became poorer than the poor man had ever been, while the poor man became richer than the rich man could have ever imagined.  The poor man was on the inside (heaven), while the rich man was on the outside (hell).  The poor man enjoyed the great heavenly banquet, while the rich man was totally deprived.  The poor man needed nothing, the rich man lacked everything.  The poor man had all his desires fulfilled, while the rich man’s desires would go eternally unfulfilled.  The poor man was satisfied, while the rich man suffered.  The poor man was happy, while the rich man was tormented.  The poor man was honored, while the rich man was humiliated.  The poor man enjoyed a lavish feast, while the rich man longed for a drop of water.  The rich man desperately sought help, while the poor man was unable to provide it.  The poor man had a name, while the rich man did not.  The poor man had dignity, while the rich man had none.  All of the poor man’s hopes were realized beyond what he could have imagined, while the rich man’s hopes vanished forever.

The rich man is the main character in the story.  The poor man never speaks; his role is primarily to serve as the contrast to the rich man.  The rich man’s words give the only testimony from hell found anywhere in the Bible.

Wow.  That pretty much says it!  

Lazarus died and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom. (no burial, funeral, or earthly honor in death.  His body would have been thrown onto the dump with those of the rest of society’s outcasts….)  

Rich man died and was buried.  Notice he wasn’t carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom!) Sure he had an elaborate funeral though.

And in hell (bet he was one who was surprised to be in hell – sure he was thinking that he would be in heaven)

Father Abraham…

Have mercy on me!

Send Lazarus…..(he asked for Lazarus twice)

5 brothers

They have Moses and the Prophets – let them hear them

But if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent 

Neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead. (aren’t you glad that One did rise from the dead!

So, what do we take away from the lesson today? What does this mean to me?

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!  

Sunday School 4/5/2020

April 5, 2020

As we are still “social distancing”….Good Morning (or whenever you are reading this).  Sure hope this stuff ends soon.  I would much rather be in our classroom with all of you. I feel we are doing the right thing by not meeting, but I do miss the interaction, discussion, and laughter with you.  I really appreciate your input so much more now!  As I was telling Bro. Charlie, I have a NEW appreciation for him putting his notes on line for us each week!  Thank you Bro. Charlie and those who help him with this! 

On with the lesson…

So, Jesus leaves the Pharisee’s house and continues on his way to Jerusalem.  Scripture says great multitudes were with him. 

Luke 14: 25-35

  • And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them,
  • If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
  • And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.
  • For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?
  • Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it all that behold it begin to mock him,
  • Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.
  • Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand?
  • Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace.
  • So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.
  • Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned?
  • It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill; but men cast it out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

There is more to following Jesus than just accepting an invitation.  Discipleship costs.  It is not for “sissies” as we have heard many times.

Verse 25-26 says as he was walking along with the multitudes following him, all of a sudden he stops, and turns to them and says:  If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.

Wow, that would be enough right there to make you say, no thanks Jesus, I love you but…..

If you have been involved with the “Not A Fan” lifegroup that Robert has been teaching on Sunday nights, you already know quite a bit about what it takes to truly be a follower and not a fan.  Really enjoying this class, hope we can get back to it soon even though it has been an “ouch” book. 

Hate is a pretty strong word.  Dictionary says:  feel intense or passionate dislike for (someone).  Hard to imagine that Jesus wants us to dislike our family.  Scripture says we are to honor our parents (Exodus 20:12), husbands are to love their wives (Ephesians 5:25), wives are to love their husbands (Titus 2:4) and parents love their children (Titus 2:4). John 13:34-35 says:  A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.  By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.  (vs 35 is one of Mrs. Judy Ann’s favorite verses). 

So, how do you hate your family and love them at the same time? 

John MacArthur’s commentary gives this explanation…Anyone who comes to Jesus for salvation must prefer God over his family…To hate one’s family is to prefer God over them by disregarding what they desire if that conflicts with what God requires; it is to love God more and them less. 

David Guzik says:  Jesus used the word hate to show how great the difference must be between our allegiance to Jesus and our allegiance to everyone and everything else. 

The greatest danger of idolatry comes not from what is bad, but from what is good – such as love in family relationships. The greatest threat to the best often comes from second best.

Wow, did you read that last line from David Guzik…The greatest threat to the best often comes from the second best. 

We have to also take into consideration what it meant to the crowds that Jesus was literally talking to.  Following Jesus (being his disciple) would more than likely mean that their family would disown them!  So, Jesus was trying to tell them, hey, this is not an easy road that you will be taking.  Consider the cost.  (more on this later).

And then, Jesus says…and his own life also.   What does he mean, hate your own life also?   Die, flesh, Die (to quote Lynette).  We have to daily die to our flesh and allow Jesus to have full control.  I don’t think we do a very good job of this (or is it just me?)  We must allow Christ to be first in our life, not the top priority on our list of top 10 priorities, He should be the only priority.  Once again, Jesus is making sure that the people know that this is not going to be a bed of roses, no peaches and cream, no cherry on top, no cream in their twinkie (Bro. Charlie), not an easy road.  Remember a few weeks ago we talked about the narrow road.  Unfortunately, at this point, a lot of the multitude probably said, hey, this is not what we signed up for, see ya.

MacArthur says…The call to salvation is a call to self-denial; it marks the end of sinners being the reigning authorities in their lives and calls for them instead to submit as slaves to Jesus’ authority as Lord, King, and Master.  That selflessness extends to the point of death, as Jesus’ next statement, Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple, makes clear.  The heavenly treasure is so valuable (Matt 13:44) the pearl of salvation so precious (vs 46), that true disciples are willing to give up their lives, if God so wills, to gain eternal life.  Jesus calls for complete self-abandonment.

David Guzik says…. Bear his cross and come after Me: Here Jesus said to the great multitudes something very similar to what He said privately to all His disciples in Luke 9:23 – that being a follower of Jesus is something like bearing a cross.

This probably horrified His listeners.  As Jesus spoke these words, everybody knew what He meant. In the Roman world, before a man died on a cross, he had to carry his cross (or at least the horizontal beam of the cross) to the place of execution. When the Romans crucified a criminal, they didn’t just hang them on a cross. They first hung a cross on him.  Carrying a cross always led to death on a cross. No one carried a cross for fun. The first hearers of Jesus didn’t need an explanation of the cross; they knew it was an unrelenting instrument of torture, death, and humiliation. If someone took up his cross, he never came back. It was a one-way journey.

Sure hope you were able to watch/listen to Bro. Charlie’s message this past Sunday morning.  His visual of carrying a cross (during the invitation) really brought it home.  I would encourage you to go back and watch (or rewatch) at least that portion of the sermon.  “In order to live, we must die” – daily.

Jesus goes on to give a couple of examples of counting the cost – Building and Battles. They both cost more than you ever imagined.   Ever start a building project and your cost exceeds much more than you had originally planned (usually the case!!).  Battles always costs more than planned (lives included).

Jesus was making sure the disciples and multitude of people with him, knew what they were getting into and were prepared to go all the way.  No going half-way and then quitting.  No saying….I didn’t know it involved this!  I’ll have to rethink this.   We must carefully consider the commitment level that it takes to follow Jesus.  Too many people don’t mind signing their name to a commitment card as long as they don’t really have to be committed!  We are so good at starting something and not finishing it… we are like those represented by the rocky and thorny soils in the parable of the sower (Matt 13:20-22). 

Chuck Smith says…Now, you count the cost. Unless you are willing to forsake everything you can’t be My disciple. Unless you are willing to take up your cross, you can’t be My disciple. Unless you love Me supremely, you cannot be My disciple. The terms of discipleship are harsh. They are severe. And it is wrong when people tell you just accept Jesus and you are not going to have any more problems. Listen, many times when you accept Jesus your problems are just beginning. It is not easy. It is not going to be easy. The Lord doesn’t say it is going to be easy. He said it is going to be tough and you better sit down first and count the cost. You better not get started in it if you can’t finish it, or are not willing to finish it. You need to make an accounting here and determine whether or not you are really willing to pay the price to go all the way through, because unless you are willing to forsake everything, really, you can’t be My disciple. These are heavy, hard words.

John Stott writes……The Christian landscape is strewn with the wreckage of derelict, half-built towers – the ruins of those who began to build and were unable to finish.  For thousands of people still ignore Christ’s warning and undertake to follow him without first pausing to reflect on the cost of doing so.  The result is the great scandal of Christendom today, so-called ‘nominal Christianity’.  In countries to which Christian civilization has spread, large numbers of people have covered themselves with a decent, but thin, veneer of Christianity.  They have allowed themselves to become somewhat involved, enough to be respectable but not enough to be uncomfortable.  Their religion is a great, soft cushion.  It protects them from the hard unpleasantness of life, while changing its place and shape to suit their convenience.  No wonder the cynics speak of hypocrites in the church and dismiss religion as escapism.

Verse 33 says, Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple. 

Forsake all that he has – Greek phrase had the idea “to say goodbye to”.

So, does this mean I have to sell everything I have and live in poverty if I am to be a disciple of Jesus.  Probably not, but who knows.  Your willingness to do so says it all.  It says who your priority is.  As Bro. Charlie has said many times, your checking account says a lot about you.  Now, don’t go saying that I said you have to sell everything in order to be a disciple.  That is certainly not the case, but you better be willing to if Jesus were to ask you to.  You can’t take it with you.  All that we have is His anyway. We are stewards of everything and owners of nothing (MacArthur).  If your money, or “things” are more important to you than being a follower of Jesus, then, Houston, we have a problem.  You may be a fan instead of a follower.

The lesson is plain.  Jesus does not want followers who rush into discipleship without thinking of what is involved.  And He is clear about the price.  The man who comes to Him must renounce all that he has…These words condemn all half-heartedness.  Jesus is not of course, discouraging discipleship.  He is warning against an ill-considered, faint-hearted attachment in order that men may know the real thing.  He wants men to count the cost and reckon all lost for His sake so that they can enter the exhilaration of full-blooded discipleship. (The Tyndale New Testament Commentaries).

I think that when we are witnessing to people, so many times we make the mistake of not warning them of the costs of discipleship. Salvation is free. But it costs to be a follower.  We are so anxious to get them to commit that we mistakenly mislead them into thinking that their life would be so much easier with Jesus in it. (it actually is easier with Jesus, just not the way they thought it would be).  And then when they do accept Him, immediately they begin to be tested and so many times, they say, no one told me this would happen.  And off they go – off into the wild blue yonder or wherever it is that people disappear to when things get a little rough.   Commitment, it hurts to see such a lack of this vital component of Discipleship.  I can’t imagine how it feels to the LORD.

Verse 34-35

Salt is only useful when it has the nature of salt.  A Christian is only useful when he or she has the nature of Christ. (David Guzik). 

He who has ears to hear, let him hear…

  • Listen up
  • Pay attention
  • Embrace the message
  • Listen to me
  • This is important

Sunday School 3/29/2020

Luke 14:15-24

Who would have thought that we would be having Sunday School online.  I’m not sure how this all works (Holly is taking care of the logistics) but am hoping that we will be able to have a little discussion on the lesson. I count heavily on class discussion!  I will try my best to give credit to the different commentaries that I use in our lessons.  It’s one thing to lead a class discussion, but having to put it all in writing…..OH MY GOODNESS!  Please pray!!!  I usually scribble and draw and cut and paste so this is going to be….not sure of the words.  Also, please do not pay attention to my grammar or punctuation. I usually use my hands a lot in class…oh my, getting nervous just thinking about it!  Okay, here we go…

Last week we were in Luke 14:1-14 and we concentrated mostly on verse 11…For whosoever exalted himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.  Spurgeon said “Humility is the proper estimate of oneself”.

Ouch!  Need to ponder on that for a while. Praise God that his mercies are new every morning! 

This week we continue on with Jesus, still at the home of a chief Pharisee’s, eating dinner. (by the way, I don’t think the Pharisees were enjoying the company too much!)

Luke 14:15

And when one of them that sat at meat with him heard these things, he said unto him, Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God.

 The Lord’s reference to the resurrection of the righteous as a banquet was not lost on the guests, who thought of that great future heavenly gathering.  That connection prompted one of those who were reclining at the table with Him to say in response, “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!”  This was a beatitude; a toast directed at himself and his fellow Pharisees, affirming that they will be among the blessed at the heavenly banquet in the kingdom of God…..Not only did they fully expect to be at that heavenly feast, but also to be in the seats of honor. (MacArthur).

We talked about those seats of honor in last week’s class. I am sitting here trying to visualize the man’s face as he made this toast.  I don’t think he really got the part about the humility that Jesus was just teaching about!  I’m thinking he was pretty smug with his toast.  I’m afraid that many of us look and sound just like him some days!

Luke 14:16-17

Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many:

And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready.

So, Jesus begins another story to try to drive his point home.  In most of the commentaries that I have read, it is my understanding that when a banquet (feast, supper, wedding, etc) was planned and you were invited, you were not given the exact time and possibly not even the exact date of the event.  But you RSVP’d anyway saying you would come, Cause who would turn down an invitation to such a big event!  Anyway, when all the preparations and the food was ready, a second invitation came saying….Come; for all things are now ready.  (hmmm this sounds familiar – I wonder where I have read this before). And of course, usually everyone would come.

John 14:18-20

And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused.

And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused.

And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.

And so the excuses begin. 

Gonna camp here for a minute.  Anyone good at making excuses? 

Working at the school for 30 years, I could probably write a book on excuses (from students, parents and teachers!).  Anyway, we are all pretty good at excuses.   I asked Google for some quotes on excuses.  Here are a few

  1.  Excuses will always be there for you, opportunity won’t.
  2. In back of an excuse is a lack of desire (Morgan)
  3. He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else (Ben Franklin)
  4. Never make excuses.  Your friends don’t need them and your foes won’t believe them (John Wooden)
  5. To rush into explanations is always a sign of weakness (Agatha Christie)
  6. If it is important to you, you will find a way, if not, you’ll find an excuse (Daniel Decker)
  7. Excuses are lies we tell ourselves so that it doesn’t have to be our fault.
  8. Sorry, I can’t today.  My sister’s friend’s, grandson’s uncle’s fish died.  And yes it was tragic.

Any funny stories of excuses that you have heard? To quote Bro. Charlie…”My hair hurts!”

During this Corona Virus, I read a news article about a man that actually lied that he had tested positive for the virus so he wouldn’t have to go to work.  Wow, what an excuse!  He probably won’t have a job to go back to now.

Back to the story, Can you imagine what the servants were thinking…How are we gonna tell him that no one is coming! 

Luke 14:21

So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind.

Ever have a dinner or party or some kind of event and hardly no one shows up?  You’ve planned for weeks for this special event, put in lots of hours prepping and cooking and cleaning….only then the excuses begin coming in….We can all probably relate to the Master of the House becoming angry!  Especially if the event we planned was for one of our children and no one showed!  (actually, this story is about the Master’s only Son and how the Jews rejected Him! – I will let John MacArthur explain this to you later in this lesson.  I am so thankful for the men and women whom God has blessed with the insight and ability to expound on the Word)

Luke 14:22-24

And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room.

And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.

For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.

Before I turn to John MacArthur to explain all this, I want us to look at the word compel. 

I can’t remember where I read this (maybe David Guzik)…..Jesus said “compel” to indicate God’s great desire to fill His House, and because these wanderers and outcasts needed to be convinced that they were welcome, compelled by love.

In the culture of that day, only the rich and famous (so to speak) were invited to the banquets and such.  And only those that could return the favor of an invitation to their next event. The people that were compelled to come in from the street didn’t have such.  I’m sure it took some convincing that they were actually invited!   Can you image their faces?  Me? You want me to come? I can’t come, I’m not good enough to be at that banquet.  Besides, I can’t pay back the favor…People will look at me strangely… I don’t have anything to wear…I could go on and on with the excuses that were probably given. 

So what does that mean for us today?  Compel.  Are we taking on that challenge to compel people to come into the Kingdom.  Compel by love. Think about it. Yes there will be excuses, our feelings will probably get hurt, but we still need to compel them to come in with love.  This should be an everyday occurrence in our life, compelling, telling others about Jesus and His love.  Are we doing this?  When we hear the words, Come, for all things are now ready! Will we be ready? Will our family be ready? Will our friends be ready? Will our neighbors be ready? Will that person we meet at the grocery store (6 ft distancing please) be ready? 

I’m now going to leave you with John MacArthur’s comments on this section.

John MacArthur says…The head of the household represents God, who issued the invitation; the banquet represents salvation in His eternal kingdom; the pre-invited guests are Israel (and Gentile proselytes); the first invitation was delivered by the Old Testament prophets. The guests initially said yes to God’s invitation; they accepted the Old Testament revelation that they were God’s chosen people and would therefore enter the kingdom (even though they rejected and murdered the prophets (Luke 13:34).

At the dinner hour which Jesus called the “favorable year of the Lord (Luke 4:19), the second invitation was delivered by John (Matt 3:2) and Jesus (Matt 4:17) .  Everything was ready. But like the fictional guests in Jesus’ illustration, those invited refused to attend.  They had no interest in the banquet of God if Jesus Christ was the door to the banquet hall.  They were not interested in Him, or His message.  When He presented the true gospel of salvation, they sought to kill Him (Matt 26:59; Mark 14:1; John 11:53).  And like the guests in the illustration, they offered foolish excuses.  Two of those excuses had involved material possessions, the third a relationship.  Both of those types of excuses have been offered throughout history by those who are more interested in the things of the world than God’s invitation to salvation.  For that reason Jesus warned “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple….So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions” (Luke 14:26,33).

Like the guests in the illustration, Israel said yes to God’s original invitation, and no to the second invitation; they said yes to God’s promises, but no to His Son. Uninterested, indifferent, and self-satisfied, they clung tightly to the deceitfulness of riches and the cares of this world (Luke 8:14; Matt 13:22; Mark 4:18-19) and missed God’s heavenly banquet.  As a result, God was angry with them and abandoned them to judgment, leaving their house to them desolate (Luke 13:35).  Spiritual judgment comes on all unbelievers at death.  Physical judgment fell on that generation in AD 70 when the Romans massacred tens of thousands of Jews and destroyed the temple.  Judgement continues to fall on all who reject God’s invitation to salvation in Jesus and thus dishonor His Son.  In John 3:36 John the Baptist warned, “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him”. 

Instead of experiencing God as gracious host, those who reject His invitation to the heavenly banquet will one day face Him as sovereign judge and forever be shut out of His heaven (Rev. 20:10-15).

But the spiritually bankrupt, destitute, and humble, symbolized by the town (the believing Jewish remnant) and highway (believing Gentiles) dwellers, will be included in the banquet.  These are repentant sinners, who acknowledge that they have the attitude of the publican, who “was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying “God, be merciful to me, the sinner!” (Luke 18:13).  They are so acutely aware of their unworthiness that the gospel messengers will have to compel them to come; that is persuade strongly, urge, and constrain them to respond to God’s invitation to salvation.

Everyone who refuses God’s invitation to salvation will be excluded from the kingdom.,  Like the foolish virgins, they will be left outside in the dark when night falls on the day of opportunity and the door to the kingdom is shut. (Matt 25:1-12)