Zis-N-Zat From Pastor Asher

God is my conscience, Jesus lives in my heart… this blog is about what I see, what I think, what I do and how I serve God

Approximate notes for Sunday’s Message; September 18, 2016; Luke 16:1-13

Scripture for this Sunday is Luke 16:1-13

You can read these Scriptures here: {NIV2010 and ESV}

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Bishop Peter Weaver who led Peninsula-Delaware Conference from 1996 to 2004 was fond of telling this story. I’ve heard it several times at Bishop’s Days Apart and at the Annual Conference.

{Illustration: Bishop Weaver’s Story}

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The church was turned around because six ladies relied on their strengths (they knew how to make cookies and they knew how to do it well), and they also were willing to think outside the box and use the resources available to them in effective and productive ways. I think that these six ladies asked themselves a question, “What can we do that has a chance of bearing tangible results?”

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The parable we have heard today … {Illustration}

There is little artwork available to illustrate this parable. By contrast, the Parable of the Good Samaritan and the Parable of the Prodigal Son will have dozens (plural) high-definition illustrations available.

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The parable of the Shrewd Manager that we heard today is a story of a man who asked himself the same question, “What can I do in my present circumstances that will bear tangible results?”

This parable does not do anything to dispel the dishonesty of the manager or to ridicule the master. Instead the parable turns on the steward’s shrewd response to the urgency of the situation and invites us to reflect and to recognize that likewise we are in the middle of a crisis that demands thinking outside of the box for the disaster to be avoided.

We can learn a great deal from this parable. This parable is about the value of the community. This parable illustrates to us what can happen when we strive to find workable solutions to the problems we face as a community.

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Just like the Shrewd Manager, all of us can be accused of squandering our master’s wealth. I am not talking about a pen or a pencil from your workplace that found its way to your desk at home. How many of us squander our gifts, talents and resources by refusing to use them to the glory of God; have you ever refused to do something in the church knowing full-well that you are doing it because it would inconvenience you? Have you ever skipped church because you wanted to go to a football game or some other secular [completely church un-related] event?

How many of us squander God’s love given to us in fellowship with each other when we make a decision to skip church and miss an opportunity to spend time with each other?

How many of us have squandered God’s gifts to us by refusing to tithe, spending our money on toys instead; flat screen TVs, computers, cars, etc. By the way, the Bible DOES NOT say it’s wrong to have toys, but it does say that we must honor God with the first ten percent of what God has given to us.

In today’s parable, the Rich Man heard some gossip about the Shrewd Manager; Luke does not tell us whether the rumors were true or not. Just like the Rich Man, all of us occasionally get engrossed in delicious gossip that fuels our imaginations and we run with it.

Do you know anyone who is in debt up to his or her eyeballs? Would that person be happy if someone said to them, “don’t worry, be happy, your debts are cut in half?” There are days when I’d love someone to come to me and say, “Hey, have a hug, here is a large Tobleron[1], and to sweeten the deal, here is $6,000,000. Go pig out!” That is what happened to the Farmers in today’s reading. They were elated; they probably saw the Shrewd Manager as a “Robin Hood” type.

We can see ourselves in every character in today’s parable. There is a little bit of the manager in us, there is a little bit of the rich man, and there is a little bit of the farmers.

Today’s parable describes a small universe that was out of balance and found healing. Today’s parable has many parallels with our lives, because our lives and our universe also need healing.

Our universe is out of balance as well.

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As a Church (big “C”) we are torn by conflict and disagreements. We argue amongst ourselves about human sexuality instead of spending our energy making disciples. We argue whether Global Warming is real instead of acknowledging that the climate is changing for whatever reason, and we need to find new crops to grow if we want to survive as a human race.

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Jesus’ recommendation? It is right there in verse nine. Luke 16:9 “I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.” Focus on relationships, focus on each other, spend time with each other, help each other as much as you can, spend time learning about God together, laugh together, break bread together.

None of us are wealthy enough or powerful enough to resolve all the problems plaguing our country at this time. We cannot fix the economy, we cannot fix the plight of those who lost their jobs, we cannot provide medical insurance for those who don’t have it, and all of us are struggling under the weight of the national debt. That is scary and depressing stuff, AND it is not the whole story.

The other side of that story, our HOPE and our Good News lies in the fact that we are not helpless. We can fix some problems in our community. If we want our young people to have good jobs in the future, we need to make sure that they get a good education; as parents and grandparents we can take MORE than a superficial interest in that area. We can keep each other accountable and help each other to work towards being debt free.

Today’s Gospel reading gives us a glimpse of what we can do if we make a conscious decision to work together and recognize our strengths and weaknesses.

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NIV Luke 16:10Whoever 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. 11So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? 12And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?

Our question is: what are we doing with what is entrusted in our care today? When it is all said and done, what is the legacy that we are going to leave behind? The six ladies of Chester made a decision to make cookies. What are our “cookies?” Notice the {“} quotes.

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NIV 1 Timothy 2:1 I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4who wants all men [and women] to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

[1] Toblerone is a brand of Swiss chocolate.

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