God Esteems Our Hearts – 7-22-22

And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God.” Luke 16:15 NKJV

RELATIONSHIP:

Do you already have a relationship with a powerful God who cares about your every need because He loves you? Did you know my God can communicate with you and protect you – He has a plan for you to prosper if you just submit to His will and let His plan play out in your life!!! God wants a relationship with you and has already made a plan for your life. He loves you so much He sent His son to this world, to die as a sacrifice for your sins and rise from death with victory over sin and the ability to have a personal relationship with you.

Do you want to know truth? Be able to discern lies? Know how to figure it all out in these confusing times and have peace? The Bible says Jesus is the truth. I have experienced it and it has changed my life. I was once a hot mess of sin, promiscuity, drug and alcohol use and so much more. But I was lost and when I could not find my way, or find a truth, I numbed it with bad choses. When I found Jesus, and truth – I found peace and deliverance from those things.

If you want a relationship with God without truth you will get the counterfeit, hypocritical Christianity that has kept some of you away for too long. You need truth and relationship. You need to be honest with yourself and God (including honest repentance) and God will reveal truth to you. It becomes the two way, interaction that your relationship with God is built on. This is why Jesus is called the truth, because he is our only way to the Father. 

“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10 NIV
Here is a prayer for you to pray:
Jesus, I believe you are the way, the truth, the life, and the only way to the Father. I believe you are the son of God, you came to Earth and lived. That you died on the cross as a sacrifice for my sins, and rose again so that I may be saved from my sins and be able to get to know you. I declare: Jesus, you are Lord!
Therefore, I confess that I am a sinner and I ask that you forgive me of my sins and come into my life. Help me to turn away from my sins and transform me into what you have lovingly created me to be. Help me through a real personal relationship grow and accept your will for my life – that I may live in your blessings. Please walk with me, and talk with me – I accept a relationship with you and with our Father God, through you. In the name of Jesus I pray ~ Amen

BIBLE READING:

Dear Heavenly Father – Please give us the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of who you are, who Jesus is, and who the Holy Spirit is. Open the eyes of our understanding, please, so we may know the hope of our calling and the vast sovereignty and power of the grace of the cross. Please do not let us miss out on what you want and need from us today. Lord, I pray that your word prepares us and not scares us! We forbid the works and influences of fear over your word and our sound mind. And please keep us and bless us and shine your face upon us and pour out grace over us and give us peace! And we pray for the peace of Jerusalem! Thank you! – In Jesus name we pray, Amen

Today’s reading is the Book of Luke chapter 16 (embedded below for your convenience in the NKJV). 

The Parable of the Unjust Steward

16 He also said to His disciples: “There was a certain rich man who had a steward, and an accusation was brought to him that this man was [a]wasting his goods. So he called him and said to him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your stewardship, for you can no longer be steward.’

“Then the steward said within himself, ‘What shall I do? For my master is taking the stewardship away from me. I cannot dig; I am ashamed to beg. I have resolved what to do, that when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.’

“So he called every one of his master’s debtors to him, and said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ And he said, ‘A hundred [b]measures of oil.’ So he said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’ Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ So he said, ‘A hundred [c]measures of wheat.’ And he said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’ So the master commended the unjust steward because he had dealt shrewdly. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light.

“And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by unrighteous [d]mammon, that when [e]you fail, they may receive you into an everlasting home. 10 He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. 11 Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? 12 And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own?

13 “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”

The Law, the Prophets, and the Kingdom

14 Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, also heard all these things, and they [f]derided Him. 15 And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God.

16 “The law and the prophets were until John. Since that time the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it. 17 And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one [g]tittle of the law to fail.

18 “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced from her husband commits adultery.

The Rich Man and Lazarus

19 “There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and [h]fared sumptuously every day. 20 But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, 21 desiring to be fed with [i]the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.

24 “Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. 26 And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.’

27 “Then he said, ‘I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house, 28 for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’ 29 Abraham said to him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.’ ”

Footnotes

  1. Luke 16:1 squandering
  2. Luke 16:6 Gr. batos, same as Heb. bath; 8 or 9 gallons each
  3. Luke 16:7 Gr. koros, same as Heb. kor; 10 or 12 bushels each
  4. Luke 16:9 Lit., in Aram., wealth
  5. Luke 16:9 NU it fails
  6. Luke 16:14 Lit. turned up their nose at
  7. Luke 16:17 The smallest stroke in a Heb. letter
  8. Luke 16:19 lived in luxury
  9. Luke 16:21 NU what fell

MEMORY VERSE CHALLENGE:

Romans 6:1-2-

“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?”

STUDY/DEVOTIONAL:

We are still in Jesus Story Time (aka Parables) as we finish up our week. Most parables I receive easily and understand the nuances. I can even find symbols that lead me to other passages and a deeper overall meaning of the concepts. I also know that understanding and application come ONLY from God. So when teaching parables, I am careful not to add or take away from the word.

Today we come to the parable of the unjust steward. I have studied it before AND I have been taught it. And I have been taught it with preachers adding their thoughts on what is going on – and it makes this confusing.
So here are some things it says to clean it up – let’s make sure today we do not add to this: Jesus is talking to His disciples. There is no real life steward that he speaks of.

16 He also said to His disciples: “There was a certain rich man who had a steward, and an accusation was brought to him that this man was wasting his goods. So he called him and said to him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your stewardship, for you can no longer be steward.’
“Then the steward said within himself, ‘What shall I do? For my master is taking the stewardship away from me. I cannot dig; I am ashamed to beg. I have resolved what to do, that when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.’”

So to follow the story – the unjust steward seems to be accused of waste (which could mean embezzlement, or fraud, or maybe he is just bad at managing money – but we quickly see he is screwed, and not bad at managing money).

“So he called every one of his master’s debtors to him, and said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ And he said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ So he said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’ Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ So he said, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ And he said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’”

So he makes deals with his debtors in order to make the books balance. Now, I have worked in finance and I wonder how reducing the bills of the debtors balances thing. Because if he was stealing, then he needs the debtors to pay more to cover it.  How did the debtors get forgiveness of parts of their debt AND the steward was shrewd.
I heard one preacher say that the steward was making deals with the debtors in hopes that one of them would want to hire him when he gets fired. But I would not want to hire someone who’s forgiving debts – generosity is not a wise (of this world) business practice. So it is possible the shrewdness comes from him building relationships – but it would have been a better business practice to build relationship all along.

So the master commended the unjust steward because he had dealt shrewdly. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light.”

Well now, that conclusion is even more confusing. Because it seems Jesus is saying that his disciples must be more shrewd with money.  I know we often associate shrewdness with clever, crafty manipulations and evil greed. But it is not evil to be a good businessman. And it is not evil to make wide associations through money and business dealings.

“And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon, that when you fail, they may receive you into an everlasting home. 10 He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. 11 Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? 12 And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own?”

Not being wise business men would prove disastrous in the beginning of Acts. They thought while they traveled with Jesus that they had all things in common – they thought it was socialism that worked. They failed to see it was Jesus providing the whole time. Without shrewd business skills, the disciples collected and redistributed the money and went bankrupt. Compounded by a local famine – Paul ended up taking up an offering for them – which took almost 50 years to collect and return to them – just in time for the Christians in Jerusalem to flee as Rome tore down the temple and overturned the city.

Since I started my own business I have learned a lot about money. I have worked for myself in the past – but this time God is first in business, and my relationship with money is filtered through Him. He is teaching me to be shrewd in a worldly system.

So I am sure there is more to this and a cleaner study of this that will come in the future.
But right now I still remain confuse at how a story of a self-serving, unjust steward can get praised for his disloyalty (with trying to serve others) and Jesus can conclude the whole thing with you can’t serve God and Money.

13 “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”

I mean I get it – but I think there is more. I think I am missing something profound. And as I grow in this new understanding of money and business – I am sure it will click someday.

14 Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, also heard all these things, and they derided Him. 15 And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God.
16 “The law and the prophets were until John. Since that time the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it. 17 And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one tittle of the law to fail.
18 “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced from her husband commits adultery.”

Verses 16, 17 and 18 do not seem to fit here. At first glance. But Jesus knows the heart and his point is that we should be His bride, chased and pure and that the love of money and earthly things is adultery, we are cheating on him.

Do not chase rewards here on earth – but rewards in heaven, eternal. And if you do a good deed in private and God exposes it and gives you glory, you receive double – a reward in heaven and on earth. But let’s not get off course.

19 “There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. 20 But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, 21 desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.”

Let’s make sure we do not forget this is a story. Nowhere else is heaven described as being curled up in Abraham’s chest and being comforted. That is a type of heaven I would not enjoy. I suppose it is better than eternal torture, but lazy and cuddly are not how I am usually described. Being with Jesus, working, ruling and reigning with Him is much more appealing.
So it appears that for the sake of storytelling, Jesus used some creative license.

24 “Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. 26 And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.’
27 “Then he said, ‘I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house, 28 for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’ 29 Abraham said to him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.’ ”

 And there it is – Jesus predicts His resurrection again along with predicting they would reject it.

Being wise with money seems to play into all of these parables. Let’s be a shrewd bride of Christ. As we discuss money it might be another great time to make a shrewd move and plan another generous love offering to Jesus. Soon, the pastor in your church will wonder why you’ve become so generous – more over the fruits of the spirit will become more and more evident in your life. I am praying for a gift to give, as well.

Have a blessed weekend, and join us for some wisdom reading from the book of Psalms and we will return to Luke (with discussion) on Monday.

***

Thank you for reading in 2022 – a Year of Wisdom and Salvation
May the God of peace keep you and bless you. May you stay focused on Christ and covered in grace.
Maranatha ~ Come Lord Jesus!

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