We've had a couple of setbacks this week, so we are not ready to put a post up tonight. We should have the first part of the parable of the prodigal son up sometime tomorrow afternoon. Thank you for understanding! May God bless you.
Tuesday, September 18, 2018
SWEEPING FOR SILVER:
LOST COIN RECOVERED
Luke 15:8 Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it?
Susan: The parable of the lost sheep would be meaningful to men. Now Jesus tells a similar parable that women would relate to—launching into spring cleaning to find a lost coin.
Susie: This wasn’t a case of a penny falling and rolling across the floor. The coin was important to her for sentimental reasons as well as for its value.
In the “lost coin” parable, the ten silver coins refers to a piece of jewelry with ten silver coins on it worn by brides. This was the equivalent of a wedding ring in modern times.
Susie: I once lost the diamond setting off my engagement ring in a large warehouse where I worked. I was interviewing candidates for temporary positions and was giving a tour to about ten of them when I noticed the loss. We all got down on our hands and knees and meticulously searched the dusty floor until it was found. We hired all ten of them! I can definitely relate to this parable. LOL!
Luke 15:9 And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice4796 with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost.
Susie: Today this woman would have posted a pic of the recovered coin on Facebook and created an “event” for the celebration. Not having FB or a phone, she must have stepped outside and rounded up friends and neighbors.
Susan: The Greek word translated “rejoice” implies she felt a joy that must be shared with others.
The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible
4796 sugchairō – sympathize in gladness, congratulate – rejoice in (with)
Susan: People are up for a good party at any time for any reason, and I’m sure these friends and neighbors were excited to share in her joy. If a person doesn’t enjoy the feeling of rejoicing with someone, they need to be ministered to and introduced to the source of all joy, Jesus!
Susie: The Apostle Paul, writing to the Christians in Rome, encouraged them to “Rejoice with them that do rejoice” (Romans 12:15a). We had that experience last Saturday as forty-one of our friends rejoiced with us at our housewarming party!
Susan: It was a glorious, joyful day as they helped us celebrate the Lord’s goodness to us!
Luke 15:10 Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.
Susie: Who is seated in the presence of the angels?
Susan: God Almighty, surrounded by angels, is the host of the party celebrating a lost soul coming to salvation through trust in Jesus Christ, entering the fold of God’s forever family.
Susie: God the Father calls together His angels to rejoice with Him. I’m sure they erupt in songs of praise as they share the Father’s joy.
Ponder this and Apply it: If you have trusted Jesus as your Savior, heaven threw a party to celebrate your adoption into God’s family. Do you celebrate with joy the fact that you are forgiven, free, and a joint-heir with Jesus? Do you invite others to know this joy (to know Jesus) and join in the celebration? What’s stopping you? Let’s have a party!
Sunday, September 16, 2018
GOOD SHEPHERD SEEKS
(see also Matthew 18:11-14)
Luke 15:1 Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him.
Susan: Chapter 14 ended with Jesus admonishing the crowd to listen closely to Him. The Pharisees and scribes did not heed this advice, but the publicans (Jewish tax-collectors who worked for the Romans) and sinners (notorious sinners such as prostitutes) flocked to hear Him.
Susie: Before we think that Jesus was stuck with the leftovers of society while the religious elite turned their backs on Him, read what Paul wrote in his first letter to the church at Corinth.
1 Corinthians 1:26-29 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence.
Susan: God purposely chose sinners and tax-collectors. His glory would be splendidly displayed as He worked in and through them by the grace and power of Jesus’s death and resurrection.
Susie: The Pharisees and scribes thought themselves to be more righteous than others and not in need of forgiveness and grace. The very people they thought not worthy of God, were the ones who were humble enough to see their own need and listen to Jesus.
Luke 15:2 And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.
Susie: This murmuring was not under their breath. The Pharisees and scribes were trying to discredit Jesus to anyone within earshot.
Susan: The Pharisees and scribes jumped at any opportunity to engage in assassinated Jesus’s character with a proverbial megaphone in hand. They would delineate the perceived shortcomings of Jesus in their eyes.
Luke 15:3 And he spake this parable unto them, saying,
Susie: Jesus responded to these murmurings by telling the following three parables. The point of each of them is the joy of God when even one sinner is saved by His grace.
Susan: The first of these illustrations involves a shepherd who has realized one of his flock of 100 sheep is missing.
Luke 15:4-5 What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.
Susie: The lost lamb is not seeking the shepherd. The shepherd pursues and seeks the sheep.
Psalm 119:176 I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant; for I do not forget thy commandments.
Susan: We saw a meme on Facebook the other day that said it seems illogical to leave 99 sheep to look for just one, unless you are that one sheep in need of the Good Shepherd.
Susie: Sheep are not known for their smarts. The sheep was just grazing along not even realizing he had strayed from the flock. Before the Holy Spirit begins to draw us, to seek us, we have no clue that we even need the Good Shepherd. We just go about our day not realizing what we are missing. The shepherd was the one who knew the peril a single sheep faced alone in the wild—not finding water, injury, attack by wolves—and so was desperate to find the lost sheep.
Susan: Praise the Lord that Jesus, the Good Shepherd, has sheep radar and cares enough to pursue us when we don’t even know to look for Him. We have no idea what dangers we face and joy we may miss until the Holy Spirit unfolds the word of God for us.
Luke 15:6 And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.
Susan: The shepherd comes home from his relentless quest and throws a party because 100% of his flock are now safe in the sheepfold. Jesus is our Good Shepherd, and there is a party in Heaven every time He brings a lost sheep into the safety of God’s forever family.
Psalm 23:1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
John 10:11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.
Susie: Our Shepherd not only risked His life to find us when we went astray, He actually laid it down and died in our place! When we place our faith in the Shepherd who sought us and bought us with His blood shed on the cross, we can rest on His shoulders until that day He carries us to the home He has prepared for us in His Father’s kingdom.
Luke 15:7 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.
Susie: Heaven rejoices each time a sinner— anyone who falls short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23)—humbly places his or her trust in Jesus and is gloriously transformed into a child of God.
Susan: The just persons refers to the self-righteous people who think they are holy, but in reality, their “holiness” is so full of holes that it resembles swiss cheese. Holes so big one could drive a fleet of semis through them. They are blinded by their false righteousness which is only an outward façade.
Susie: Elsewhere Jesus described this type of person and the Pharisees in particular as “whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness” (Matthew 23:27). EVERYONE needs repentance, but the Pharisees and scribes did not see themselves as such.
Ponder this and Apply it: Sheep are basically clueless creatures who do not realize their dependence upon the shepherd until he is not there to provide for and protect them. “All we like sheep have gone astray” (Isaiah 53:6a) and our Good Shepherd seeks to bring us home. We need to be humble enough to realize we cannot find our way into the Kingdom of God, let alone earn it. We must place our dependence totally upon the Good Shepherd Jesus. When He calls us, all we must do is surrender ourselves to Him and be carried home. Is your trust in anything other than Jesus? Are you striving to be “good enough”? Give up that struggle and cry out to the One who will rejoice to bring you into His fold.
Tuesday, September 11, 2018
Luke 14:34-35 Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned? It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill; but men cast it out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
Mark 9:50 Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another.
Matthew 5:13 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
Susan: Matthew 5-7 is the passage we call “The Sermon on the Mount.” Verse 13 falls immediately after “The Beatitudes.”
Susie: Jesus was speaking to those following Him, not just the twelve, but a large crowd. Christ’s followers are the salt of the earth.
Susan: Believers bring the savor to the world, and serve the purpose of preserving people by witnessing to them that they, too, may receive Jesus as Savior. He is the only one that can save them completely to live eternally with Him.
Susie: John MacArthur helps us understand the concept of salt losing its saltiness.
MacArthur Study Bible
Matthew 5:13 if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? Salt is both a preservative and a flavor enhancer. No doubt its use as a preservative is what Jesus had mostly in view here. Pure salt cannot lose its flavor or effectiveness, but the salt that is common in the Dead Sea area is contaminated with gypsum and other minerals and may have a flat taste or be ineffective as a preservative. Such mineral salts were useful for little more than keeping footpaths free of vegetation.
Susie: There is a good but brief article on salt as a preservative and purifier here:
Susie: Here is a brief statement from the article:
Salt was required in every sacrifice burned on the altar. Besides its preserving factor, it also has a purifying affect on what it comes in contact with.
Susan: We as Christians are to have a purifying effect in our communities.
Susie: We are to stand for what is right and ethical and help to keep evil at bay. Edmond Burke said:
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
Susan: Our lives, our witness, should be an illustration of the scripture:
Psalm 34:8 O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.
Susie: How do we lose our saltiness?
Susan: When we are no longer on fire for the Lord, not red hot, we lose our saltiness. As He purifies us, dross (useless stuff) is removed from our lives as impurities are removed from silver in the refiner’s fire. The waste is removed and all that is left is living, vital, and salty. BTW, y’all, I love salt!
Revelation 3:16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
Malachi 3:2 But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap:
Susie: When we stray from the path God has placed us on, when we are disobedient, our saltiness is reduced. We are ineffective as the purifying and preserving agents of the Lord. A true believer cannot completely lose his/her saltiness because it is given us by grace from which we cannot fall. However, there are those who profess to trust Christ but have never truly known Him. There is no savor of the Savior in them nor in their influence on the world. They are therefore cast out.
Susan: Jesus ends with the words, “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” which is His way of saying, “Wake up and pay attention. This is crucially important!” The information He had just shared with them could not be obtained from a “Cliff’s Notes” version. We must soak in, digest, obey, and live the teaching of Jesus.
Susie: I believe this refers back to the entire passage regarding humility, service, and effectiveness.
Ponder this and Apply it: Are you salty? Are you a positive influence? Do your words and actions make a difference in your family, with your friends, and in your community? Have you placed your life in the hands of Jesus? Is His Holy Spirit flowing through you? If not, trust Him now. If so, consciously live so as to be salt in your environment—seasoning, purifying, and preserving the world around you.
Sunday, September 9, 2018
TERMS OF PEACE:
TERMS OF SURRENDER
Luke 14:31-32 Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace.
Susie: In commentaries, there seem to be two views of this example Jesus gave. One is that we as believers must wage war against sin, the flesh, and the Devil. The cost would be giving up our pet sins and lusts. However, to me this idea falls apart because a) the Devil is more powerful than we humans but not more-so than God, and b) we do NOT make peace with Satan.
Susan: Matthew Henry and The IVP New Testament Commentary Series both view God as the King whose army far outnumbers our own resources to withstand His wrath. Resisting God is futile. It would be asinine for the creation to wage war with its Creator, the design battling the designer. How crazy is that?!
Susie: When faced with an army far greater than your own, the prudent thing to do is seek peace, to send an ambassador to negotiate with the foe. Praise the Lord that He has already sent us His terms of peace. They are nothing short of total surrender! In order to have peace with the all-powerful God who would rightly condemn us to death, we must surrender ourselves completely and plead the fact that His Son died in our place. His terms are generous indeed because in exchange for our complete surrender of our worthless, sin-filled selves, the Lord places upon us the robe of Jesus’s righteousness and places within us His Holy Spirit to guide us, ultimately taking us into His own home to live with Him forever.
Susan: Once we surrender to God and align ourselves with Him, we are no longer His enemies of God and slaves to sin, for Jesus then calls us friends and even co-heirs.
John 15:15 Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.
Romans 8:16-18 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
Susan: We are then given His armor to fight against sin, the flesh, and Satan. He fights our battles for us while we remain in this fallen world.
Ephesians 6:10-13 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
Luke 14:33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.
Susan: Jesus intended to weed out those who were emotionally enthusiastic but not vitally engaged.
Susie: The people who tagged along only hoping to see miracles or be miraculously fed were not prepared to face the realities of Jesus’s cross and persecution of those who placed their lives in His hands.
Susan: Does forsaking all mean that we must give away everything we own and take a vow of poverty? Not at all:
Expositor's Bible Commentary (Abridged Edition): New Testament
This is clearly a crucial verse. But does it mean that it is impossible to retain any possessions at all if one wants to be a true disciple? In contrast to the cares of the rich young ruler (18:22), Jesus does not say a disciple should sell all his possessions and give everything away. His thought probably is that of a continual abandonment of things, yielding up the right of ownership or the desire to cling to things, rather than outright disposal of them. The disciple of Jesus may be given the use of things in trust, as a stewardship, but they are no longer his or her own. This understanding is therefore consistent with the command to use our possessions wisely (cf. 16:1-12).
Susie: When a person or nation surrendered to an earthly king, in essence they became his possession. As believers, God is our Master: He owns us. Therefore, in reality, we do not own anything. We belong to Him, and all we own is His as well. We have the use of it but must hold it loosely, giving God free reign to use it as He sees fit for the glory of His kingdom.
Philippians 3:7-8 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
Susie: Moses enjoyed all the rights and riches of a prince of Egypt, but he gave it all up in order to identify with the one true God and His chosen people.
Hebrews 11:24-26 (CJB) By trusting, Moshe (Moses), after he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose being mistreated along with God’s people rather than enjoying the passing pleasures of sin. He had come to regard abuse suffered on behalf of the Messiah as greater riches than the treasures of Egypt, for he kept his eyes fixed on the reward.
Susan: The point Jesus is making is that we must not love things or even people more than we love Him. Loving the things of this world more intently than loving Jesus is the beginning of destruction and separation from Him.
Susie: If someone is clinging to the things of this world, they have not truly surrendered their lives to the Lord. They are not His disciples.
1 John 2:15-16 (VOICE) Don’t fall in love with this corrupt world or worship the things it can offer. Those who love its corrupt ways don’t have the Father’s love living within them. All the things the world can offer to you—the allure of pleasure, the passion to have things, and the pompous sense of superiority—do not come from the Father. These are the rotten fruits of this world.
Ponder this and Apply it: When surrendering to a king, one hopes for mercy, that the punishment that is deserved will not be applied or in the least will be lessened. When we surrender to the King of kings, we are met not only with mercy to forgive our sins but with His marvelous grace to bestow on us gifts we could never earn or deserve. If you are a believer, take a moment to count the blessings you have received from your gracious King and say thank You! If you have not yet surrendered your life to Jesus, place yourself in His powerful but gracious hands, knowing He will forgive you and usher into His family as a child of the King.
Tuesday, September 4, 2018
COUNT THE COST
OF BUILDING ON THE ROCK
Susie: Jesus told the crowd that following Him required extreme devotion, a love even greater than the love for one’s closest family members. Although God’s grace is free and impossible to earn, there is a cost to being a disciple of Christ. Jesus illustrates that concept in this passage.
Luke 14:28-30 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.
Susie: We have a dear friend who is a builder. He has employees who estimate the cost of any project before he puts in a bid to build it. They must consider the cost of quality materials, equipment, and labor (including office staff). They must calculate the time commitment the project will involve and whether that will negatively impact other projects he is engaged in. There is much planning involved before the actual building begins. He would be a poor contractor indeed if he could not finish the job and finish it well!
Susan: But what is the cost of discipleship? EVERYTHING! Nothing is ours if we are committed to Jesus. It is all His, and we just manage it on His behalf . . .
Susie: . . . and according to His instructions rather than our own idea of how to manage it.
Susan: If the Lord asks for even a blessing that He has bestowed on us to be returned to Him, the correct response is to turn it over willingly.
Susie: Salvation is by grace alone, absolutely free because we could not possibly afford to earn it. However, turning our lives over to Him is recognizing His complete sovereign control over us as our King. Following Him is costly.
Susan: However, Jesus Himself is the foundation of our building, our life standing firm in His grace. When we surrender to Him, He demands all we have and all we are; but in return He provides the materials we need to successfully build a life that glorifies God.
Isaiah 28:16 Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.
Matthew 7:24-25 24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.
1 Corinthians 3:11-15 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
Susie: All that we build spiritually in life begins with the total surrender and self-sacrifice of all that we have and all that we are. That is the cost of discipleship. Even so, the ultimate reward of belonging to Jesus far exceeds any price we pay while journeying here on earth in anticipation of the day our journey ends here and begins in the glorious presence of our Lord.
Titus 2:11-14 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
Ponder this and Apply it: Count the cost. The cost of discipleship is high: we must surrender all we own, all we love, and all we are to the will of God. We must give up pet sins, prized possessions, and even important people if called to do so. However, as noted in a previous lesson, the return on investment is better than any 401K, CD, or IRA. Are you ready to trade everything to the Lord to receive back peace in this life and paradise in the next? Ponder what sacrifices the Lord is calling you to make, then make them wholeheartedly by trusting that our loving Father works all things for the good of those whom He has chosen, those who love Him (Romans 8:28)
Monday, September 3, 2018
DEVOTION DEMANDED OF DISCIPLES
(See also Matthew 10:32-38)
Luke 14:25 And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them,
Susan: It is significant that Jesus addressed the crowd at large, rather than just the twelve.
Susie: Jesus invited many more people to follow Him than just the most intimate disciples. However, He made it plain that there was a tremendous cost involved in being His disciple.
Susan: Jesus was about to make it clear that the cost of following Him was mandatory, not optional.
Luke 14:26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
Susie: Jesus used the word “hate” in this context to mean that the love of anything or anyone else would not compare to the disciple’s love for their Savior.
Matthew 10:37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
Susan: Dr. Charles Stanley hit the nail on the head as he explained Luke 14:26:
NASB Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible Notes
Jesus calls for an exclusive commitment from His disciples. Everything else should pale in comparison to our love for Him because He alone must be enthroned in our hearts.
Susan: Jesus must be the supreme love our lives to whom we surrender all—everything we have, everyone we love, and even ourselves. We should even be willing to sacrifice our very lives because of the veracity of our love for Him.
Susie: Following Jesus is not a half-hearted commitment. We must be “all in.”
Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
Self-renunciation, pushed, if necessary, to the extremest issues, is with Jesus the one indispensable condition of discipleship. He asks for nothing less than the heart, and that cannot be given by halves.
Luke 14:27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.
Susan: Not every Christian will die as a martyr, but as His witnesses we must be willing and prepared to do so if the Lord places us in that position. But remember if we die a martyr’s death, we are then ushered into the arms of our Savior and Lord.
Susie: The Greek word “martus,” translated “witnesses” in Acts 1:8, could also be translated as “martyrs.”
Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses3144 unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
Susan: To truly define ourselves as disciples, students of Jesus, we must consider ourselves dead to all that is sinful, those things that distract us from His divine purpose for our lives. Instead, we must attach ourselves, be grafted into the vitality of the Lord Himself.
Romans 6:11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
John 15:5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
Ponder this and Apply it: To be a follower of Christ is a life of complete surrender, total abandonment, of all we would claim to be ours, being willing to allow the Lord to take everything (including our lives) in order to glorify God. Who or what is most dear to you? Jesus wants us to love others, to care for our families (1 Timothy 5:8), to be His caring arms. However, these earthly relationships cannot be placed above our love and loyalty to Jesus. Prayerfully evaluate your dedication to Jesus and seeking His kingdom above all else. Ask Him for the strength to make any adjustments necessary to bring God the most glory through your daily life.