Archive for November, 2012

Luke 16:18 (14-18) “and he who marries one who has been divorced from her husband commits adultery.

One of the reasons the Pharisees loved money was because they had come to believe that if you kept the commandments you would be financially blessed. In other words you would become rich. A poor person was one who had broken the law.

They laughed at Jesus because He wasn’t rich and most of the people with Him were poor. How could Jesus give them advice when it was so obvious to them that He had broken some law, somewhere?

This is why Jesus interjects the law concerning adultery. The Law (16:16) stated that marriage was to be permanent, with little to no exceptions. But the Pharisees had made divorce easy so they could divorce for any trivial reason and marry anyone they wanted. Before the eyes of men they could get away with it because they were the keepers of the Law. But before the eyes of God they were desperately wicked.

Although it is nice to be recognized and appreciated by men here and now, it is in eternity that I will ultimately live and God is the only one I need to impress.

Contentment involves learning how to use what we have rather than desiring what we can’t use.

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Luke 16:13 (1-13) “You can not serve God and wealth.

Although this is a universal principle of living, here Jesus was actually striking at the heart of the Pharisees problem… wealth had become their God. Their anger at the tax collectors was very hypocritical.

In the story of the brothers we assume that their father was wealthy, certainly wasn’t poor. But in this story we’re told up front that the man had so many possessions he needed a manager to help him. But the manager failed to invest wisely or invest at all other than in himself. No matter how hard you try to hide your faults there is always someone not fooled.

But the manager now decides to invest wisely to insure his future after judgment has happened by building loyalty with his master’s money, 16:4–7. The master wasn’t happy about that but was surprised to see his former managers ingenuity, 16:8.

At the very minimum this is how believers should see wealth. Wealth is an opportunity to build a greater reward in heaven, 1 Corinthians 3 &4. This should never be our true motivation, gratitude is, but for those who can’t live any other way this will do.

Gratefulness implies my willingness to pay Him back although I know it’s not possible.

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Luke 15:11 (11-32) “And He said, A man had two sons.

I want to stay with this passage this morning because it speaks to us as believers and as the church about fellow believers who turn away from the way of the Gospel. I’m sure that after the party was over the two sons had to find a way to mend their relationship with each other.

In 1 Corinthians 5:9–13 Paul explains that a member of the church who is behaving like he is not of the church is to be rejected and we’re not to associate with them. Yet, Jesus Himself sat and ate with the sinning Jews. Is there a contradiction?

Remember that wherever we find Jesus eating He has been invited with one purpose to share the Gospel. If a former church member invites you to their home for a meal, you and they must understand that you go to share the Gospel. As far as you as a believer and the church are concerned that former member is a non-believer in need of the Gospel message, which now must be presented differently.

For them we will pray that God will bring them back before too long. But, when they return there is no reason why we can’t accept them as a lost brother now found and no reason not to return him to service as soon as he and the church are able.

Forgiveness involves learning to see how the pains others have caused me God has allowed to help me grow or to remind me of a lesson forgotten.

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Luke 15:28 (11-32) “But he became angry and was not willing to go in; and his father came out and began pleading with him.

Jesus, wanting to be sure they had understood the lesson of the two short stories and so gave them a longer story. Most of us have heard this story in one form or another. But if you follow the context you discover the original intent.

The older son in the story represent the Jews, the son who runs off is like the sheep or coin that was lost, that is one who had sinned (turned away from God). It took awhile but the young son learned his lesson and returns to his father, looking for forgiveness.

But what was the older son looking for that he didn’t think he already had? With all the wealth the family had the older son had focused on developing a relationship with that wealth and not with people… like his father, like his brother.

In this story we learn that the younger son had to first suffer the loss of things to then appreciate the value of right relationships, whereas the older son had not yet learned that lesson. Our success in life or with God is not measured by what we think we have or deserve, but by the right relationship with our Maker and Father.

Faith involves investing my resources and myself in things that will matter for eternity.

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Luke 15:7 (1-10) “I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over the ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

The situation of the Pharisees and scribe (lawyers) grumbling was of their own making… remember they had rejected Him and were looking for ways to accuse Him of wrong, Luke 11. Since they had rejected Him, He then went to those that needed Him.

These sinners, which included the tax collectors, apparently recognized a flaw in their lives and needed to hear from Jesus a solution that made more sense to them than what the Pharisees seemed to offer. In the two parables Jesus is explaining that He had come to save that which was lost and not which was not.

If the Pharisees and scribes were truly righteous, they were already saved. Now if the sheep were the Jews and the one lost was one of the Jews, then once found the ones not lost should be happy because one of their own was found. But, the Pharisees made life hard for the one who was lost, making them go through endless rituals.

In a sense Jesus was trying to get these important men to see their responsibility to be seeking and retrieving at least their lost brothers. They had succeeded in twisting the true Gospel message into a cult of the privileged few. God is not looking to save a few… he wants to save all, but will only save those who recognize their need.

Faith involves recognizing your need to be saved from the consequences of your sins and accepting Jesus offer to you.

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Luke 14:32 (25-35) “Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace.

Yesterday we saw the importance God gives to not giving up when we share the Gospel message with others. Just because we meet with some resistance doesn’t mean we should give up. We just need to find a better way to explain the message.

But, just what is the message we’re sharing?

Jesus here explains that to accept His offer doesn’t translate into a wonderful life now. Actually our life here can become very hard. Remember, that to reject Jesus message was to reject Him personally. As believers (in His message) we too will be personally rejected when those around us reject the message we bring.

We must maintain perspective. There are two sides to the Gospel. The first part is to recognize we’re on a path to a judgment we can’t avoid. To escape it we must accept Jesus work on the cross on our behalf, 14:32. The second part is that when you make that decision, to accept Jesus offer, the world around you will reject you. You must accept that rejection.

Actually the Gospel message involves me rejecting the world and its ways before it rejects me, and my new way. So, when people reject me personally because I am identifying with Jesus (carrying my own cross) it is an indication that I am living correctly… unjustly suffering for the sake of others.

Determination involves not allowing difficulties to cause me to change right decisions.

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Luke 14:23 (15-24) “Go out into the highways and along the hedges, and compel them to come in, so that my house may be filled.

Obviously those who had been invited were the religious class of Israel. Remember that Luke told us earlier that the Pharisees and Lawyers (the Temple leaders) had rejected Jesus as the One sent from God and were looking for legitimate excuses for their decision, Luke 11.

Since those who had a special knowledge of God had rejected Him God decided to reject them for anyone who would accept Him, 14:24. Jesus was telling all present that there was coming a time when the Jews would loose their privileged stand before God… for a time. The doors would then be open to another group… the church (the word means a gathering of people).

What was interesting to me was that the master says to compel them… to force them if you have to. Now I’m not saying that as evangelists we should force people to accept the Gospel message, but the idea is that we shouldn’t just give up sharing the Gospel because someone says no. Remember Paul had to be knocked off his horse before he accepted.

As long as the Master hasn’t closed the door the opportunity to be saved is still open to any, even if they come in kicking and screaming.

Determination involves directing all our energies to complete the mission we’ve been assigned.

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Luke 14:11 (1-14) “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.

So then, if I want to be exalted (honored) all I need to do is humble myself?

Jesus was not trying to show us the path to being recognized by others. What He was pointing out was that although as children of God with privileges others may never have, we didn’t receive them because of any perceived value we may think we have.

The guest who entered the house assumed too much. Now even if I were to be the guest of honor, I should let the one who invited me honor me, when and if he is ready. But instead, I should be honored to have been invited in the first place and not assume a privilege not yet given.

If I’m so grateful to God for His many blessings, then instead of giving a party to my friends, I should give the party to those I know have a need, with the intent to show them how God has met my need and can meet theirs as well. In the same way God has been gracious to me I should be to others.

Looking to be recognized by people here on earth will only last while I’m here… if that long. But seeking to be recognized by God will last for eternity.

Humility involves recognizing the mercy and grace of God in our election.

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Luke 14:4 (1-6) “But they kept silent.

The Pharisees were expecting to catch Jesus unawares. And they couldn’t because Jesus was ready. Before God allows us to be tempted He prepares us.

When I read this passage I just couldn’t believe that these community leaders would abuse their power to tempt Jesus by getting the hopes of this sick man up. In their view they expected Jesus to sin on the Sabbath by performing a work on a holy day. But what if Jesus would have decided that today was not a good day to heal?

The scriptures tell us that God will not allow us to be tempted beyond our ability to handle it, but that with the temptation He will give us the ability to overcome it, 1 Corinthians 10:13. The idea is that as we work to spiritually grow, God is preparing us for the next temptation. When Jesus was lead into the wilderness, at the beginning of His ministry, it was to be tempted or tested.

This is how we should view the temptations we encounter in life… as tests of what we already know. Studying your Bible every chance you get (at home or in church) will help you to be prepared.

Alertness is not just to danger. It involves paying attention to opportunities God presents for real change, right now.

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November 5.12 ethot

Luke 13:34 (22-35; Matthew 23:13-39) “How often I wanted to gather your children together, just as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not have it!

As a good parent God has wanted so much to bring all His creation back to where it should have been from the beginning, but He has been following one principles all along.

That principle is our right to make our own decision and then to respect it. Every human being who decides they want nothing to do with God will in the end have that desire, even though God knows it’s not the best thing for them. Just like a parent who has experienced life doesn’t want their child touch the open flame on the stove, God doesn’t either.

But there will come a time when the child is of an age when you must let them suffer the consequences of their decisions. Sure you’re there to help them get up, but there comes a point when you can tell you child is abusing a privilege and not growing through an experience. At that point you must let them go, even though it hurts you so much.

Imagine that time billions of children who are deciding to ignore or reject God’s offer of an eternal life of joy and peace. If you can, you will then understand why God was willing to sacrifice His only Son to save as many as are willing.

Faith involves resting all my hopes for tomorrow on God’s proven promises rather than on man’s faltering word.

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