Heavenly Treasure

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August 22, 2022

This week’s reading was Luke 13 through 18. Luke shared many of Jesus’ parables. I love the 3 parables of the lost sheep, coin, and prodigal son. These are easy to understand and bring hope that God cares about each of us individually, will seek us out, and welcomes us with open arms, even when we have made bad choices.

The parable we are going to spend more time on is one that is difficult to understand. This parable is called the parable of the shrewd manager in Luke 16: 1-15. You may be wondering why I titled this heavenly treasure when the parable is about a shrewd manager. This will be explained at the end of the post and will make more sense.

Here is the text from the NIV Bible:

The Parable of the Shrewd Manager

16 Jesus told his disciples: “There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions. 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.’

“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— I know what I’ll do so that, when I lose my job here, people will welcome me into their houses.’

“So he called in each one of his master’s debtors. He asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’

“‘Nine hundred gallons[a] of olive oil,’ he replied.

“The manager told him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it four hundred and fifty.’

“Then he asked the second, ‘And how much do you owe?’

“‘A thousand bushels[b] of wheat,’ he replied.

“He told him, ‘Take your bill and make it eight hundred.’

“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. 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 one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

14 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 others, but God knows your hearts. What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight.

In this parable we have 2 main characters: 1. A rich man, 2. The rich man’s manager. Managers in this day were usually trusted by their employers, and took care of everything and everyone inside and outside of the home. They also took care of finances and loaning of money.

We find out that this manager has been wasteful of the rich man’s money and possessions. It is not surprising that the rich man fired him. After the manager was fired, he had to think of something he could do in order to live. He knew no other employers would hire him because word would get around that he was wasteful. He also knew he was not physically capable of labor, and was too ashamed to beg. The manager had to do something, so he made a plan that would cause people to welcome him into their home. He called the debtors and gave them discounts on the money they owed the rich man. They only had to pay 20-50% of what they owed the rich man. And do you notice that the debtors did not ask questions why they were getting these discounts? They went along with the plan.

While they no longer owed the rich man money, and they saved a lot of money making the deal with the manager, they were indebted to the manager. If the manager needed something or a place to stay, he could go to the debtor and say, “Hey, remember what I did for you, let me stay with you?” and they would feel obligated to help the manager. They were also part of the scheme because they did not ask any questions. If the manager needed something, they had no choice but help him out.

After the manager made dishonest dealings and caused the rich man to lose money, something surprising happens. The rich man and Jesus compliment the “dishonest manager” for acting shrewdly. Why would the rich man and Jesus say the manager did good? This is where the parable gets difficult to understand.

We first need to define shrewd. According to dictionary.com and Merriem, it means having or showing sharp powers of judgement, or taking advantage of a hidden opportunity. This is someone that understands a situation quickly and uses it to their advantage.

This makes since. Even though the manager was dishonest, he was looking ahead to ensure he had a way to live in the future.

But we still ask, “How can a dishonest situation be praised by the rich man and Jesus?

First, Jesus was not praising the dishonesty. He was praising how the manager acted shrewdly.

In verse 8 Jesus says, “For people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are people of the light.”

What Jesus is saying is that people of this world (non-Christians) will do what they need to secure their futures, but people of the light (Christians) do not do this when it comes to spiritual matters.

In verse 9 Jesus says, “I tell you, use worldly money to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.”

What Jesus is saying here is that Christians should look ahead into the future and use money for eternal purposes, like missions, discipleship, and other ministries that bring people to Christ so that when money and resources run out, they will be welcomed by more Christians into “eternal dwellings.” Darryl Bock said in a commentary, “When the end comes and no more money is available, the one who has seen into the future and acted prudently will have handled the resources and stewardship God has given wisely.”

This is why I titled this week “Heavenly Treasure.” This parable is about how we should handle our resources. Matthew 6 states, “19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Thus, Jesus is saying that Christians should look into the future and invest their resources in the kingdom.

  1. What are ways to invest in the kingdom?
  2. I know I felt convicted about where I should invest my resources. Were you?

Next week’s reading is Luke 19 to 24. Let me know how you are doing keeping up with the reading.

Sowing Seeds

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August 15 2021

This week we read from Luke 7 to Luke 12. There are many miracles performed by Jesus and Jesus talks in parables. The parable of the Sower is this week’s topic.

Before starting, let’s define “parable.” According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, a parable is “a story or lessen given about a person for spiritual or religious teaching.” This is what Jesus is doing when he talks about sowing seeds.

Luke 8:4-15 says:

While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, he told this parable: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.”

When he said this, he called out, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”

His disciples asked him what this parable meant. 10 He said, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that,

“‘though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand.’[a]

11 “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. 12 Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. 14 The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. 15 But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.”

Let’s dive into this parable.

What do we need in order to plant a garden that grows fruits or vegetables? We need seed, someone to plant the seed, good soil, and good weather and sunlight to grow the seed.

Jesus compares growing food to sharing the Good News about Jesus to other people. He also compares how people respond to the Good News with different types of soil.

In this parable we have the:

  • Sower or farmer: person who shares about Christ.  
  • Seed: the word of God.
  • Soil: the recipient of the word of God. There are 4 types of soil or recipients. They are:
  • Trampled soil: the seed cannot go in to the hard soil so it lays on top. The birds then eat this seed. Later Jesus explains that the birds are really the devil who takes the word away from a person’s heart so they do not believe. These people are not believers.
  • Rocky soil: the plant grows here because there is a small amount of dirt, but it withers because it has no moisture.  The plant does not have deep roots. This means the that the person receives the word with joy, but when trials come, the person falls away.
  • Thorny soil: this is soil that has thorns poking out. These people hear the word, but in a while God’s ways are choked out by life’s worries, riches, and pleasures, and they do not mature.
  • Good soil: this yields 100 times the crop than what was sown. This stands for people with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by perseverance produce a crop.

What does this mean?

In order for a person to know about Christ, there must be someone willing to share the Word about Christ. You must have a farmer that plants the seed.

In order to share the Word, one must read and know the Word of God. You must know the seed you are planting. This is a great reason to be in this study reading the Bible daily.

In order to get the Word out, a person shares it to all types of people. The farmer scatters the seed on to different types of soil indiscriminately. The farmer does not care what type of soil he scatters the seed upon. He just scatters it.

Remember, this is the parable of the sower who sows seeds on all types of ground, This is exactly was Jesus did throughout His ministry. Jesus tries to reach all types of people, not just those with good soil. Soil can always get richer with nutrients added. Thus, share God’s word with all types of people. We may need to help the soil, but God will grow the seed.

Are you ready to start your garden?

To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul. Rudyard Kipling

Questions:

  1. Has anyone ever shared God’s word with you? How did that make you feel?
  2. How comfortable are you sharing God’s word with others?

Please let me know if you have prayer requests. I would love to pray specifically for you.

Next week’s reading: Luke 13 to Luke 18

Change is Hard

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August 8, 2021

         Well, how did you do this first week of reading your Bible regularly? Was it an easy change or difficult?

         I found reading regularly to be very hard. My old habits of watching TV or doing something else seemed to call to me. I had to really think about reading the Bible, and even put it on my to do list.

         This week’s reading in Luke is all about change. We see the miracle birth of Jesus to Mary who was a virgin. We see a glimpse of his younger years. We then see the start of his ministry, and this is when Jesus changed everything.

         I am going to focus this week’s discussion on the following verses.

Luke 5:27-39 in the NIV Bible.

27 After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. “Follow me,” Jesus said to him, 28 and Levi got up, left everything and followed him.

29 Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. 30 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”

31 Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

33 They said to him, “John’s disciples often fast and pray, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours go on eating and drinking.”

34 Jesus answered, “Can you make the friends of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? 35 But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; in those days they will fast.”

36 He told them this parable: “No one tears a piece out of a new garment to patch an old one. Otherwise, they will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old. 37 And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. 38 No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. 39 And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for they say, ‘The old is better.’”

Change is hard. The Pharisees did not like the change Jesus was bringing. He hung out with people like tax collectors that were despised by others. His disciples were not fasting and praying like others were. Basically, Jesus and his disciples were not following the rules.

Rules were what the Pharisees were about. They prided themselves for following all of the rules in the Old Testament along with thousands of man-made rules. They believed that to get to heaven you had to follow the rules perfectly. They looked down on people who did not follow these same rules. Therefore, they looked down on Jesus and his disciples. They did not want to change and felt the rules were better.

When Jesus told the parable about the patch and the wineskins, he was comparing the old and the new. The old way was about following the law and rules as the Pharisees did. There were 631 laws in the Bible they followed and thousands more that were man made. The new way (New Covenant) was about Jesus, and the forgiveness He offers others and the love he has for people.

People today often time feel the same way as the Pharisees. People think that religion or getting into heaven requires stopping bad behavior and doing good. People think, “I’m a good person, I should get into heaven because of it.” Being “good” is not the way to heaven according to Jesus. He says that the way into heaven is a free gift and that we just have to have faith in Jesus and accept His gift. According to Ephesians 2:8,9, For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”

This is very different from the Pharisees’ ways. They wanted people to notice how good their behavior was and how many rules they followed. Being able to follow the rules when no one else was able made them feel better about themselves.

Jesus said to Levi, “follow me.” Levi did not have to change before he followed Jesus. He did not have to become a better person. Jesus asked him to be his disciple while he was the tax collector. While he was stealing from others. It was after Levi followed Jesus that he began to make changes in his life.

After Levi became a disciple, Jesus renamed him. His name went from Levi to Matthew, which means “gift of God.” Can you imagine being despised by all men and then having Jesus ask you to follow him and then he calls you a gift of God. How life changing. Matthew then followed Jesus throughout his ministry and learned His ways. He was the writer of the first book of the New Testament.

Jesus says the same thing to you and I as he did to Levi. We do not have to be a “better person” to follow him. It is a free gift. We just need to have faith in Him and say yes.

Have you said “yes” to following Jesus? Please let me know if this is something you want to do or if you have any questions.

Others questions to think about.

  1. When you encounter others, what is your focus? Is it how people act and behave, their lifestyle, their money, or is it grace and love?

2. How do you live? Are you a rule follower or do you give grace?

3. Are you loving those around you?

4. Do you need to have someone over for dinner that does not conform to your rules?

One preacher said,

Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.”

The doctor is in!

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August 1, 2021

Who is Luke and what was his purpose?

We will start our journey reading the book of Luke. Knowing the author will help with understanding the context of his writing.

I love the book of Luke. The author is a doctor, and being in health care I can relate. Because he was trained how to observe people, he writes about others differently than the other gospel writers. For example, he mentions a person had “dropsy” which means swelling from fluid retention. He also mentions 5 physical healings that the other gospel writers don’t talk about.

Luke is a good friend and companion of Paul, thankfully. Paul went through many physical and health issues from being beaten, getting bit by a snake, and being shipwrecked. Having Luke as his companion I’m sure was key in keeping him alive.

Luke is the only author of the Bible that was not Jewish. He was Greek and a Gentile who became a Christian. Some people think Luke was one of the 12 disciples of Jesus because he wrote one of the gospel books. This is not true. He obtained his information for the book by asking people who were actual eye witnesses to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Some do believe he may have been one of the 72 who were sent out by Jesus.

Luke not only wrote the book of Luke, but also the next book in the Bible, Acts. These two chapters are a 2-part letter, and from the writings it is evident that Acts was to follow Luke. Luke wrote these two books for Theophilus. Luke calls Theophilus “most excellent” which mean he was someone in a high position and had wealth (Luke 3). He wrote the book of Luke after Jesus was crucified. It is believed it was written when Paul was in prison. Luke’s goal in writing this letter was to encourage other Christians and strengthen their faith, “so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught” (Luke 1:4).