Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Luke 7:36-50 Parable of the Two Debtors

Parables -
Parable of the Two Debtors
Luke 7:36-50
         Ken Marler tells about his grandfather who is 94 years old, and acts 60. He has unbelievably good health and an active lifestyle. His grandmother is almost as active at 88.
His grandparents live in It, Mississippi. Yes, It. That's the name of the community just off Interstate 55 south between Gallman and Wesson, Miss. There is a sign proclaiming, "This is It." I have always wanted a second sign not far down the road reading "That was It."
Every Thursday, Ken’s grandfather drives about 20 miles to Wal-Mart in Hazelhurst. That is senior adult day, and he can get free coffee. He doesn't miss that day at Wal-Mart. When he envisions his grandfather at Wal-Mart, he is making sure everyone knows he's in the building. After all, when you're 94, you want everyone to know you're still alive. When he asked his grandfather why he drives the 40-mile round trip for a free cup of coffee, he says, "Well, I like the free coffee, and I also like the way the clerks hug on me." Once when his grandfather went to Wal-Mart, it just happened to be his birthday. When he entered the door, he found the clerks had thrown him a birthday party -- cake, candles, balloons, ice cream and a newspaper photographer were all there. (Of course, there was free coffee, also.) Wal-Mart knows his grandfather, and they know his name and when his birthday is.
Now it is very interesting that his grandfather does not go to church. He is a believer, and his grandmother doesn't miss church. But his grandfather just doesn't go. And Ken thinks he knows why. At Wal-Mart he gets what he doesn't get at church. The ingredients he misses at church? Hugs, people knowing his name, birthday parties, a sense of belonging and being appreciated. You see, it doesn't matter if you are 4 or 94, you like this type of attention. Age is not the issue. The issue is feeling like you belong and that you are a part of what's going on. If his grandfather were in our church, would he get the Wal-Mart reception?

 Opening Questions — Get Us Thinking:
· Who is the most affectionate person in your family?
 Jesus Anointed by a Sinful Woman—Luke 7:36-50
36When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. 38As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.
39When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.”
40Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”
“Tell me, teacher,” he said.
41“Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii,c and the other fifty. 42Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”
43Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”
“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.
44Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.45You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”
48Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
49The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?
50Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

Research Questions — “Dig Deeper” to find God’s Will
1. As an apparent prostitute, the woman in this Bible story felt a great deal of shame and blame. Yet she longed for God’s forgiveness. Jesus shows her great compassion and mercy despite her past mistakes. What is the main lesson here?
2. What risk was this “sinful woman” taking in coming to the house of Simon, the Pharisee? What does this tell you about her state of mind?
3. What section would the local newspaper put this story in?
the social page — highlighting that a prostitute crashed the dinner this Pharisee had for Jesus.
the gossip column — because of the scandalous way the prostitute acted toward Jesus.
the religion page — headlining Jesus’ claim that the prostitute’s sins are forgiven.
the business section — announcing the woman’s departure from her profession.
4. How would you have felt watching the woman anoint Jesus like she did in verse 38?
embarrassed moved confused disgusted
5. What is your impression of Simon? What do you think Jesus’ purpose was in telling the parable in verses 41-43? Why didn't he just accuse Simon of not loving enough?
6. What does Jesus see in this woman that Simon does not? How does this affect Jesus’ actions toward her? In this passage, what seems to be Jesus’ main concern? Simon’s Concern?
7. Why do you think Jesus spent so much time associating with sinners? Explain? - Luke 19:10
8. Who do you think was a greater sinner, the woman or Simon? Why? How important is it to this woman that Jesus loves and forgives her?
9. What difference exists between the way God looks upon people and man looks upon them? 1 Samuel 16:7
10. In terms of the two debtors, should one have been more grateful to the moneylender than the other? If so, which one and why?

Reflective Questions — Live it today.
1. The Forgiven Sinner’s Grateful Love. What are some of the ways Christians should express their gratitude to God for the forgiveness of sins He has granted to them?
2. Who do you identify with most in this story? The Woman — because I feel bad about my past. The Pharisee — because I have a tendency to be judgmental. Or Jesus — because hypocritical attitudes make me angry.
3. How difficult is it for you to express your love in a relationship with Jesus?
4. What is the most loving thing you have ever done for Jesus? For someone else? How was Jesus part of it?
5. What needs to happen for you to feel the kind of forgiveness this woman felt?
6. What have you learned from this story that you could apply this week?
 Jesus never attacked the sinner. He simply said, "I forgive you." Meanwhile, he attacked the self-righteous with a vengeance, because he knew that until they felt guilty, they couldn't be forgiven.

The next study will be focusing on the Prison Epistles.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Luke 12:13-21 -- The Rich Fool

Parables -
Parable of the Rich Fool
Luke 12:13-21
         William Stringfellow said, "Perhaps the moral ambiguity of money is most plainly evidenced in the popular belief that money itself has value and that the worth of other things or of men is somehow measured in monetary terms, rather than the other way around."

What do the following people have in common?
 Mr. Welch of Welch's Grape Juice
 Mr. J.C. Kraft of Kraft Cheese Corporation
 Mr. Henry P. Crowell of Quaker Oats
 Mr. William Colgate of Colgate Soap
 Wallace Johnson, founder of Holiday Inns
 J.C. Penney of J.C. Penney Stores
 Mr. Albert Hyde of Mentholatum
 R.G. Letourneau of Letourneau College of Engineering

   They all put God first in their life and business. They started off their businesses asking God for wisdom in running them according to Christian principles. They started off giving Him a tithe and graduated to proportionate giving from 15% to over 25% of their profits. They were not content to give God leftovers and God was not content to bless them with leftovers. They were not content to be casual in their stewardship with God but made a pledge upon which they could "test God" according to His promise in Proverbs 3:9-10. "Honor the Lord from your wealth, and from the first of all your produce; so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine."
The Possessor of heaven and earth placed you here, not as a proprietor, but as a steward.

 Opening Questions — Get Us Thinking:
· If you could have fame, fortune or good looks, which would you choose?
· The following parable shows us the effects of greed. Jesus calls us to share our resources with others for the sake of God’s kingdom.

The Parable of the Rich Fool — Luke 12:13-21

13Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”
14Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” 15Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”
16And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. 17He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’
18“Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. 19And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” ’
20“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’
21“This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”
 · Just for fun, if the Rich Fool in the parable (you can call him George Megabucks) lived in your community, what neighborhood would he live in and what kind of car would he drive?
Research Questions — “Dig Deeper” to find God’s Will
1. Deuteronomy 21:17 gave the general rule that an elder son received double a younger one’s portion. Disputes over such matters were normally settled by rabbis. This man’s request of Jesus was selfish and materialistic. There is no indication that the man had been listening seriously to what Jesus had been saying at the first of this chapter. Jesus replied with a parable about the consequences of greed.

2. In response to the man’s plea, Jesus tells a parable. What is the man’s problem? How would you describe this “rich fool?”
A show-off 

3. What is the man’s solution? Why is he a fool?
4. What was Jesus warning us against when he said, “Watch out!” in verse 15?
5. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry:” (v. 19). What is your attitude toward this philosophy? The attitude of those in your life?
6. How would you respond to the person who says, “Doesn't God just want us to be happy?”
7. What is the punch line of this parable? (v 20-21)
 Reflective Questions — Live it today.
1. Have you ever been like the man in this story?
2. How would this man’s obituary describe him?
A tireless worker                               
A success story                                  
Or another of your  word choice. _______________

3. Advertising is dedicated to making us believe the opposite of verse 15. What differences in lifestyle result from believing Jesus verses advertisements?
4. How can you be “rich toward God” (v 21)?
5. What do you value most in life? (Rank your top 3 choices.)
__ my family 
__ my assets 
__ my friends
__ my work 
__ my integrity 
__ my faith
__ my memories 
__ my time 
__ my good health

6. If Jesus were to ask you the same question as the man in the story, “What have you prepared for yourself,” do you feel good about your answer?

Money is a great servant but it is a lousy god. If you don't manage your money, it will manage you.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Matthew 21:33-46; Mark 12:1-12; Luke 20:9-18 Parable of the Tenants

Parables -
Parable of the Tenants
Matthew 21:33-46; Mark 12:1-12; Luke 20:9-18
         God’s love in sending His Son — What would tempt you to give the baby out of your cradle? Is there anyone you love on earth, mother, that would tempt you to give your baby for that? But what if the child had grown up and had come to man’s estate? Say it had bloomed into fruition and all your hope was on it. What do you love in this world that would tempt you to give this child up as a sacrifice? You might for the country in hours of heroism. Many and many a mother has done a work that was divine when she consecrated her only son and sent him forth into the war, believing that she should never see him again. How many hearts are touched with the thought of this remembrance. But, oh, is there language that can expound such heroism, such zeal, such enthusiasm, as must inhere in the hearts of everyone that can do such work as that? And yet our hearts are small comparatively, and pulseless and shallow, and our human senses, as compared with God, are like a drop of water in comparison with the ocean. And what is the love of God, the Infinite, whose flowings are like the Gulf Stream? What are the depths, and the breadths, and the lengths of the love of God in Christ Jesus, when, looking upon a world that was so degraded and animal like, He gave His only begotten Son to die for it that there might be an interpretation of the love of God to the world.
Christ ungratefully treated —Surely a servant of the government may risk himself in the very heart of a convict prison alone, if he is the bearer of a royal pardon for all the inmates. In such a ease it would not be necessary to look out for a man of rare courage who might dare to carry the proclamation to the convicts. Give him but the message of free pardon, and he may go in unarmed, with all safety, like Daniel in the den of lions. When Christ Himself came to the world-the great convict prison of the universe-came the Ambassador from God, bringing peace-they said: “This is the heir; come, let us kill Him!” He came unto His own, and His own received Him not; and the servant is not greater than his Lord.

Opening Questions — Get Us Thinking:
· If you were an absentee landlord and had to find trustworthy tenants, what would you seek?

The Parable of the Tenants—Matthew 21:33-46
33“Listen to another parable: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and moved to another place. 34When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit.
35“The tenants seized his servants; they beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. 36Then he sent other servants to them, more than the first time, and the tenants treated them the same way. 37Last of all, he sent his son to them. ‘They will respect my son,’ he said.
38“But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him and take his inheritance.’ 39So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.
40“Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?”
41“He will bring those wretches to a wretched end,” they replied, “and he will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time.”
42Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures:
“ ‘The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
the Lord has done this,
and it is marvelous in our eyes’h ?
43“Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. 44Anyone who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.”i
45When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard Jesus’ parables, they knew he was talking about them.46They looked for a way to arrest him, but they were afraid of the crowd because the people held that he was a prophet.

Research Questions — “Dig Deeper” to find God’s Will
1. What is the main point of this parable?
2. Why is a husbandman?  What is a watchtower?
3. In this parable, who is represented as the landowner? The vineyard? Tenants? Servants? Son?
4. What was Jesus prophesying by telling this parable? What does it say about Jesus’ authority?
5. How do tenants respond? Why?
6. What corresponds to the son’s death? To the removal of the wretched tenants?
7. What is ironic about verses 42-44? What verse is this a quotation from?
8. How does the parable and the quote affect the religious leaders?
9. At whom does Jesus direct the parable? Why don’t they arrest him? Why don’t they repent and follow Jesus? Why don’t they take action?
10. Why choose this time to tell such a parable?
11. Who will be given the kingdom of God (v. 43)?
Reflective Questions — Live it today.
1. Have your rejected Jesus at a point in your life?
2. How do you handle rejection in your life?
3. How do you make Jesus feel welcome in your life each day?
4. Have you ever felt as though you deserved God’s kingdom?
5. In your life, is Jesus like a capstone (the highest point in your building)? Or is he like a millstone (a weight that drags you down)? In what ways?
6. With whom do you identify in this story? Why?
 Rejecting the creator as he reaches out in love is unthinkable, but all have sinned and need to reach out to God for His grace.