You cannot serve God and money

He also said to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was wasting his possessions. And he called him and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Turn in the account of your management, for you can no longer be manager.’ And the manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do, since my master is taking the management away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. I have decided what to do, so that when I am removed from management, people may receive me into their houses.’ So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ He said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ 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?’ He said, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’ The master commended the dishonest manager for his shrewdness. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light. And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings. “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters, for 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 God and money.” Luke 16:1-13

Today’s verses recount one of those stories that if you rush through it you can get the impression that Jesus was condoning what the manager had done regarding his master’s accounts. After all the master commended the dishonest manager for his shrewdness. So, are we to wheel and deal or not? Upon a closer look at what Jesus said we see that no we are not to take short cuts or short change others.

The manager was acting similar to what a financial adviser does today. He was in charge of not only watching over the master’s wealth but growing that wealth. In this instance the manager was not doing a very good job and that is why he was fired. Knowing he would soon be out of a job he used his current job to curry favor with those the master did business. He was looking to get another job. It was this look to the future that the master commended not the deals themselves.

Jesus is addressing His disciples in today’s verses not to tell them to be dishonest but to plan ahead, using material things to insure a secure future so that they could put them to kingdom work. Like the disciples we too need to be careful about the things God has given us so that we can put these earthly things to work bringing more people to Jesus. Always keeping in mind that we are to serve God and not become so enraptures with wealth accumulation that we put that job before our duty to God.

Have a blessed day,

David

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Navigating the ESV vs. NIV 2011 Debate

dwwork:

A great look at Bible translations and Bible translation from the guys at Veracity. Enjoy, David

Originally posted on Veracity:

Does your church have a “pew Bible?” Through a generous gift years ago, an anonymous donor in our church gave hundreds of copies of the New International Version (NIV) of the Bible so that everyone who comes to our church would be able to read from the Bible where they sit each and every Sunday morning for worship. What a great gift it is to have a copy of God’s Word at your fingertips!

The problem is that we use the 1984 edition of the NIV…. and the version’s publisher, Zondervan, is no longer printing copies of the 1984 NIV. So what is a church like ours to do if you want to get a new pew Bible?

Ah, so we enter into the world of contemporary Bible translation controversy. The controversy, though a bit nerdy for many in some respects, is important because lovers of Jesus are also lovers of…

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He was lost, and is found

And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything. “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.” ’ And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate. “Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’ ” Luke 15:11-32

On my second mission trip to Latvia our group acted out the parable of the prodigal son. As we acted to pastor of the local church in Kraslava, Latvia translated our actions into word, Russian words as that is to common language of Latvia. This parable recorded by Luke has universal appeal. I think just about everyone at some time in their lives can identify with either the father or the son or both.

Rather than go through this parable and recount what happened to the young man I want to look at the question of who the characters in this story represent. The three characters are the youngest son or the prodigal son, the oldest son and the father. Jesus is telling this story at the banquet and is once again addressing the Pharisees. I think the first reaction from the Pharisees is that Jesus is the prodigal son. After all, here is this itinerant teacher who from their perspective has lost his way. To them Jesus has strayed from the law and He is consorting with all types of sinners and tax collectors. Jesus has allowed prostitutes to touch His feet and anoint Him with oil. To the Pharisee mind Jesus has gone rouge.

But I do not think Jesus is talking about himself. So, who is the prodigal son? Could it be Israel? Maybe, after all God’s chosen people, His children, have as a group gone astray many times. Ezekiel writes  “Yet I will leave some of you alive. When you have among the nations some who escape the sword, and when you are scattered through the countries, then those of you who escape will remember me among the nations where they are carried captive, how I have been broken over their whoring heart that has departed from me and over their eyes that go whoring after their idols. And they will be loathsome in their own sight for the evils that they have committed, for all their abominations. And they shall know that I am the LORD. I have not said in vain that I would do this evil to them.” (Ezekiel 6:8-10 ESV)

The Jewish too often turned from God and like the prodigal son threw their inheritance away and whored after idols and false gods. Jesus was trying to get Israel to turn from their false reading of the Law back to God. But maybe this view is a bit too narrow and does not fit the entire story.

If we go further back in history we see that God set the Jewish people apart from the rest of mankind. We find humans put into two groups, the Chosen people, Jews, and the Gentiles, the rest of us. The Jews even with their straying were always with God but like the older son they deemed this honor to be more like slavery rather than a parent child relationship. They had worked for God and because of these works they deserved to be the favorite.

The Gentiles however had long ago left God behind. We had wasted our inheritance on idols and living by our own standards. But like the prodigal son we found this life unsatisfying. Then along comes Jesus and some of the Jews and some of the Gentiles want to get back to our Father’s house. We realize that being a lowly servant in our Father’s house is better than anything we have without Him. The Jews see this and are angry that the Father is allowing us prodigals back into His arms. They are angry that all is forgiven. Just as in the parables of the lost sheep and coin, all heaven rejoices when the lost comes to God.

The father in this story is of course God. God is always waiting on those who have rejected Him to come to their senses and return to Him. God is constantly on the lookout for our return he is waiting to put a robe of righteousness on us and the ring of sonship on our finger welcoming us back into His family and calling us His children. And like the prodigal son there is nothing we can do that He will not forgive. We do not have to clean up in order to come to Him. Jesus will wash away our sins and we will become clean, cleaner than we have ever been. All any of us need do is do what the prodigal son did, return home.

Have a blessed day,

David

PS: To my faithful readers I owe you an apology. I have been remiss in my postings to this blog. I was shocked to see that a month has gone by without a new post from me. Yes, I have reblogged some posts from my friends at Veracity and Thomistic Bent but I have been playing hooky from my writing. I have been catching up on my reading and will be posting a number of book reviews in the coming weeks. Since I retired I have not gotten into a schedule. I see something around the house that needs to be done a do it immediately. But I have to confess that we have been enjoying some exceptional spring weather here in the Houston area and I have found myself many times sitting on our deck enjoying the cool weather and watching and listing to the birds and squirrels. There are two different hummingbirds that regularly feed at our feeders and we have a pair of cardinals and blue jays that are nesting in or near out backyard. Then there is the occasional hawk of eagle that flies by. But I have had my break and it is time to get back to the Lord’s work. So in the future you should see this blog updated on a more frequent basis. Thanks again for being a reader and to those who have recently started following this blog, thanks and I look forward to exploring God’s Word with you as I have done with all my readers.

To God be the glory,

David

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Do Scholarly Skeptics Agree About Early Evidence for Jesus’ Resurrection?

dwwork:

I was fortunate to take a class on the resurrection taught by Dr. Habermas. If you ever have a chance to hear him speak do not miss the opportunity.

Originally posted on Thomistic Bent:

Gary Habermas is the world’s leading scholar on the resurrection of Jesus. This is not an exaggeration, for his research and publications are impeccable. He has researched every publication on the resurrection, ancient and modern.

In the presentation below, Habermas maintains that even using the sources that critics and skeptics accept, we can trace the reports for Jesus’ resurrection back to within 6 months to three years of the event. As he says in the video below, we do not have to depend on the memory of eyewitness accounts from many years later, even though the eyewitnesses are good enough.

In the New Testament, we have early writings, going back to less than a few seasons after Jesus actually rose from the dead.

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Taking the Bible “Literally”

dwwork:

Literally a great post on taking the Bible literally. Davd

Originally posted on Veracity:

Plumb LineHave you ever had a conversation with someone who is skeptical about the Bible, and one of the first questions they may ask you is, “Do you take the Bible literally?

Many Christians, upon hearing the question, instinctively go on the defensive and say, “Yes, I do take the Bible literally.” After all, if the Bible is under attack, a believer will want to stand up and say that they take God at His Word. But then you can almost envision the annoyed look on the skeptic’s face when they respond with something like, “Well then, do you hate your family? After all, did not Jesus say that unless you hate your father, mother, wife, children, brothers and sisters, then you can not be a follower of Jesus?” This classic objection from Luke 14:26 often puts the believer back on the defensive again, trying to come…

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Who Is More Reasonable In Religious Discussions?

dwwork:

A book review from my friend Glenn’s blog. I too recommend the book “True Reason”. Have a blessed day, David

Originally posted on Thomistic Bent:

The book True Reason: Confronting the Irrationality of the New Atheism responds to the claims of modern atheists who are fond of trying to take the rational high ground in the discussion of religion.

Tom Gilson is the editor of True Reason and also the author of a chapter in the book that reviews a 2011 debate between Christian William Lane Craig and atheist Sam Harris. Gilson summarizes the arguments of both Craig and Harris while not trying to prove whether Craig was correct or not. Gilson lists six major points of logical argument that Craig presented in the debate, then spends the rest of the chapter explaining Harris’ positions, with the goal of showing which man was reasonable.

Gilson states “What rational, logical, reasoned arguments did Harris use to respond? One struggles to find any reasoned answer at all. He paid Craig’s deadliest arguments no attention whatsoever.” (p.65…

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In What Sense Does God Foreknow Before He Predestines? (Romans 8:28-30)

dwwork:

I wanted to let my readers have a look at this post from my friends at Veracity. Clark gives us a great look at a very difficult subject. Have a blessed day, david

Originally posted on Veracity:

What is coming around the corner? In what sense does God foreknow that we are  predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son? What is coming around the corner? In what sense does God foreknow, such that we are predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son?

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son,in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified (Romans 8:28-30 ESV).

“Predestination” gets a really bad rap in our culture today. It conjures up images of an aloof or angry deity arbitrarily sending some people to bask in the fragrances of heaven and the rest to go burning in the fiery flames of hell.  Who wants to worship a God like…

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