Manna for Today

 

God Wants Integrity of Heart (Luke 16:14-18)

The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. 15 He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight.

16 “The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it. 17 It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law.

 
18 “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery. (Luke 16:14-18)
 Learn it:
After Jesus teaches about how we can serve only God or money some of the Pharisees scoff at him. It is telling of their true hearts. Jesus reveals to them their sin and that God knows their true intentions. This leads him into teaching about how the coming kingdom of God has arrived and things are about to change. There is a new gospel that is being preached and a lot of people are wanting to get in. Even though the message has changed there is still a call to integrity. We are still commanded to live ethical lives, but we have the grace and forgiveness of our sins to help us. Jesus brings up one law that is still in effect, that God puts a high value on marriages staying together and not divorcing. Jesus is not giving a full discourse on marriage but teaching the importance of integrity and what we need to be striving for.
 Live it:

These five verses are sandwiched between to long teachings on managing our money. This middle part is the reason why we should be handling our money well. We do it because God can see into our hearts and minds and knows our true intentions. We want to have more integrity than the Pharisee’s had. They were more concerned about their reputation before man than their reputation before God. God wants us to have complete integrity in our lives whether people are watching us or not. A question we need to ask ourselves when no one is looking is, are we living up to God’s standards? Are we always doing things that bring him glory and advance his kingdom?


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God or Money? (Luke 16:1-13)

 Jesus told his disciples: “There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions. 2 So he called him in and asked him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your management, because you cannot be manager any longer.’

3 “The manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do now? My master is taking away my job. I’m not strong enough to dig, and I’m ashamed to beg— 4 I know what I’ll do so that, when I lose my job here, people will welcome me into their houses.’  5 “So he called in each one of his master’s debtors. He asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’  6 “ ‘Eight hundred gallons of olive oil,’ he replied.  “The manager told him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it four hundred.’  7 “Then he asked the second, ‘And how much do you owe?’  “ ‘A thousand bushels of wheat,’ he replied.  “He told him, ‘Take your bill and make it eight hundred.’ 

8 “The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. 9 I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.

10 “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. 11 So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? 12 And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?  13 “No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”  (Luke 16:1-13)

Learn it:

            Chapter 16 is a section that focuses on how we steward our resources.  This first parable is a difficult one because the person we are to learn from is a dishonest manager.  A manager is fired by the owner because he has not been handling his resources well.  The manager decides to lower the bills for some people before he leaves.  The best way to understand how he can lower the bills is by him removing the commission he normally he would have made from them.  He is not harming the owner, but he is sacrificing his own money in hopes that people will be generous to him in the future.  This is the act of “shrewdness” that Jesus is approving of. 

            Verses 8-9 summarize the point of the story.  Just like worldly people give more thought to their physical well-being than righteous people give thought to their spiritual well-being.  We need to work hard at being generous with our money so that God will be pleased with how we handled the money he has given us.  Jesus makes it clear that we cannot serve God and money.  We must make sure we are making God the priority in our lives. 

Live it:

            Money is a touchy subject but something that our culture puts a high priority on.  As believers, we need to have a reputation for being generous and using our resources good.  We definitely should be giving to a local church, but our generosity should not stop there.  Are there other missionaries, seminaries, or other organizations that we should be supporting?  We cannot support every missionary nor can we fix every problem in the world.  But we should be playing our part by sacrificing some material want and giving that money to building the kingdom of God.  Money can have such a foothold in our lives, and we must fix our eyes on God and his mission.  Pray that God would allow you to have a generous heart and that you do not find your security in money.  You, and me, we should find out security in heaven and the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  That is our priority.


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The Begrudging Brother (Luke 15:11-32)

25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’

28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’

31 “ ‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ ”  (Luke 15:25-32)
 Learn it:

            Today we are looking at the parable to the prodigal son.  It is fairly well known, and I want to focus more on the older brother.  The one that has been faithful the whole time to his father, while his younger brother wasted away the inheritance he received.  The older brother represents the Pharisee’s in Jesus’ time.  They felt superior to other people and did not want everyone coming to know God.  They felt they had been loyal longer and God should bless them and not new converts. 

Towards the end of the parable the older brother is outside arguing with his father about the party and celebration that is going on.  The father, which represents God, is loving and compassionate.  He wants to celebrate the return of the lost son and he wants the older brother to join in.  The story ends with a cliff hanger.  We do not know how the older brother responds to is father’s invitation.  Is he going to go into the party and celebrate or is he going to stay outside and be bitter?  The reader is left to think about what they would do in that same situation.

 Live it:

            This parable shows the deep love of God.  He freely gives to us the ability to live our lives the way we want to.  We can squander all the blessings he has given us and yet he is there waiting to welcome us back.  He will forgive all sins.  Past, present, and future.  When a person repents of their sins and turns to God it is a cause for celebration!  Sometimes we can have jaded hearts and question whether a person has genuinely repented or not.  We then keep a close eye on them and maybe even find ways to test them to see if they have really changed.  Is that what a loving Christian should do?  Jesus Christ tells us we are to forgive them and welcome them into the body of Christ.  Of course, if a person does slip up then we are to address that, but we should not hold them at arm’s length and judge them.  If you were the older brother how would you respond to father’s invitation?  Would you go in and celebrate or would you stay outside? 


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The Lost Found (Luke 15:1-10)

Now the tax collectors and “sinners” were all gathering around to hear him. 2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

3 Then Jesus told them this parable: 4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

8 “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? 9 And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ 10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”  (Luke 15:1-10)
 
Learn it:

            Over the past few weeks, Jesus has done a lot of teaching about the importance of surrendering your life to Christ and the consequences of that decision.  In chapter 15 he begins to shift gears and shows the heart of God in reaching the lost.  The Pharisee’s back then often condemned Jesus for how he spent so much time with the “sinners”.  Jesus wanted to show them how much God wanted to bring all people into a relationship with him.  He does it by sharing three parables, and we will look at two today.  The two parables are about a lost sheep and a lost coin.  Have you ever lost something and felt the anxiety over the loss?  How you cannot rest until you find it?  God wants people to know him and be in community with him. 

            The things that are lost are not extravagant, priceless things.  They are modest and it should show us that God is going to be searching hard for all people.  No one is too small or insignificant to him.  We also see that when the sheep and coin are found it is a cause for celebration!  All of heaven is going to rejoice when one person repents and surrenders their life to Christ!  If heaven is rejoicing then we should be rejoicing here on earth as well. 

 Live it:

            We are called to live a life patterned after the life of Christ.  He goes after all people and builds relationships with people who society may call unworthy.  Many times we like to stay in our comfort zone and not talk to people who are different than us.  We must not get complacent and push ourselves out of our bubbles!  We must talk to those neighbors that annoy us, or our co-workers that we’d like to avoid.  Maybe there is a family member who you’ve witnessed too many times and they keep rejecting the gospel.  Persevere.  Just like the shepherd had to take time and energy to find the one lost sheep.  We must take time and energy to love those that are lost.  How can you love your neighbor?  How can you have a conversation with a co-worker?  How can you communicate the gospel in a new way to your family member that it might click for them this time?  God did not give up on you so you should continue to be faithful in loving the lost.

 


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Pastor’s Corner