Manna for Today

 

Money and Compassion (Luke 16:19-31)

“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. 

22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’

25 “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’

27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father’s house, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’

29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’

30 “ ‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’

31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’ ”  (Luke 16:19-31)

Learn it:

            This story of the rich man and Lazarus comes at the end of a section where Jesus has been talking about money and how we can have a healthy relationship with it.  In this story we read about a rich man who continually ignores Lazarus, who is a poor man, who lives outside his house.  When they both die Lazarus goes to heaven and the rich man goes to hell.  The rich man is condemned because he has a lot of wealth, but he did not steward it well and was selfish with it.  He had a hard heart, and even while he was in hell, he was still wanted Lazarus to be a servant to him.  He still had this hard heart and had no compassion. 

            Once he realizes that there is no changing his predicament, he begs Abraham to send someone to warn his brothers.  He knows their hard hearts and wants them to be spared from a life in hell.  Abraham tells him that they have, what we call, the Old Testament to read and they will be spared.  The rich man still knows that they will ignore that, and they need something spiritual to happen in order for them to change their lives.  Abraham knows their hardness of hearts will still reject the message if someone were to be raised from the dead.  The original readers of this story know that for a fact because Jesus was risen from the dead and people still rejected him! 

Live it:

            In this story we, the readers, would be the brothers of the rich man who are blessed to be able to hear his message.  It gives us the opportunity to change our lives, so we do not end up in the same place as him.  One warning to be clear is that our works do not save us.  The Bible makes that clear in other places.  This passage is about how our faith should be lived out and they should reflect his character.  The gospel of Luke talks a lot about how we need to see opportunities to be compassionate and then take action.  This passage sends a warning that if you find comfort here on earth you will not have comfort in heaven, and the opposite is true.  I ask you, how comfortable is your life?  Are there ways you can give sacrificially?  As Christians our true reward is in heaven and that is what we are living for.  How can we display that truth in our life today? 


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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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Pastor’s Corner