Archive for November, 2012

Luke 17:17 (1-19) “Were there not ten cleansed?

In the Old Testament there were rules or procedures for those who had skin diseases, like leprosy to follow, Leviticus 13 & 14. In this occurrence we see ten lepers appropriately standing at a distance. They were following the rules.

Recognizing that Jesus was someone special they called out to Him asking for mercy. And, Jesus responded commanding them to go to the priests and show themselves. This was done to prove they had been healed. So the ten followed the rule.

But, one didn’t. In the group of ten was a Samaritan. Samaritans were half breads and considered worse then a gentile. So I’m guessing he walked a few steps behind the nine. They all must have noticed that the leprosy had disappeared from there bodies, but only one thought he would have enough time to return to his healer and say thanks before seeing the priest.

Jesus doesn’t want us to merely be rule followers, he wants us to understand their meaning and purpose and follow that, 17:18. The Pharisees had gotten themselves tangled up in rules for the sake of rules… don’t forget the purpose and value of rules!

Wisdom involves applying basic principles in every situation we’re confronted with.

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Luke 17:10 (1-10) “We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done.”

In a veiled attack at the Pharisees Jesus here points out that they had become stumbling blocks to the spiritual development of the very ones they were supposedly committed to help.

They had failed to recognize what every good teacher knows about their students… students make mistakes, lots of mistakes. Many times it seems like they make the same mistake over and over, but it’s just until they understand. Patient persistence will eventually equal success more times than not.

Yet, as good teachers, we forget that it is not an extra effort we are making, it is just part of the job. Doing our job as teachers, whether in an academic program or Sunday school, doesn’t require extra recognition of our efforts on the part of others. Yes, I believe that a teacher’s job may be harder than most, but we make the commitment or contract to do the job and that is all we deserve, no more, no less.

The question the Pharisees had forgotten to ask themselves as teachers of the Law was, had they at the end of the day at the very least done the job? It is the very same question good teachers need to ask themselves every day.

Love involves seeing the basic need of another and meeting it, as I would want another to meet mine.

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Luke 16:31 (14-31) “But he said to him, If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will no be persuades even if someone rises from the dead.”

In the story of Lazarus and the rich man it is odd that the rich man would ask for the kind of mercy he failed or refused to display to Lazarus when he could have. But was it possible that the rich man was a Pharisees and couldn’t touch Lazarus because he was unclean being obviously a sinner. Then would he have permitted Lazarus to be in his presence just to highlight his own righteousness?

If the rich man would have actually read, listened to and put into practice the words of Moses and the Prophets (the Bible as it existed in those days, all 39 books of what we now call the Old Testament) he would have avoided the mess he was now in.

Abraham tells the rich man that his brothers have the same opportunity to listen with the intent to act on the word of God to them as he did. If having the dead return to warn would be enough to change people’s hearts, then what would be the value of God’s word? (God later did try this, Matthew 27:50–53)

In a way this story is a prophecy in that the Pharisees didn’t believe even though Jesus was raised from the dead.

Love involves seeing the basic need of another and meeting it, as I would want another to meet mine.

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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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