First United Methodist Church
315 Kerens Ave, Elkins WV 26241 (304) 636-0660
Scripture: Luke 16:1-13
Jesus told his disciples: “There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions. So he called him in and asked him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your management, because you cannot be manager any longer.’ “The manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do now? My master is taking away my job. I’m not strong enough to dig, and I’m ashamed to beg— I know what I’ll do so that, when I lose my job here, people will welcome me into their houses.’ “So he called in each one of his master’s debtors. He asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ “‘Nine hundred gallons of olive oil,’ he replied.“The manager told him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it four hundred and fifty.’ “Then he asked the second, ‘And how much do you owe?’“‘A thousand bushels of wheat,’ he replied.“He told him, ‘Take your bill and make it eight hundred.’ “The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings. “Whoever 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. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own? “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
Message: Is Jesus Enough?
A recent transplant to the mountains of one of our southern states wrote:
The folks around these parts have a peculiarity that drives me nutty. You ask them an “either/or” question, and their answer is, “That’ll be fine!”
I asked a lady the other night who was coming through my register at Wal-Mart, “Ma’am, would you like your milk in a bag or not?
“That’ll be fine,” was her reply.
I looked quizzically at her, and asked, “Does that mean ‘Yes’ or ‘No?’”
“I said that that’ll be fine,” was her answer. Since I was holding it up in my hand, out of a bag, I decided to assume that “that” in this case meant “that naked jug of milk that you’re holding in your hand, not in a bag.”
That feeling was further reinforced by a slight nod of the head towards the jug just as she said the word “that.”. I set the jug in the buggy without putting it in a bag.
“I said I wanted it in a bag,” she complained. “You want me to shout it or write it down for you?”
“That’ll be fine,” I replied (source unknown).
Wouldn’t it be great if everything was always fine? Life doesn’t work that way, though. It didn’t even work that way for Jesus. Life is going to throw us curves. People are going to throw us curves. How we swing the bat or if we swing at all makes all the difference. By the way, where does Aaron Judge stand with his home run total? 60? He is about to tie, and maybe even break, Roger Maris’ 61 year record. I’m not a Yankees fan, but wow, what accomplisments.
Jesus told a story about a rather well-to-do man who got a pretty good curve ball. This man, the boss, was being cheated by his manager. When the manager got word that he had to give an account to his boss, he devised a plan to be able to make it if he lost his job. He called various people who owed his boss some goods. The manager forgives half of one person’s debt and 20% of another man’s debt, enabling both of them to pay their new bill. His boss commends him, even though he is still considered a dishonest manager. It appeared that his cohorts, too, were dishonest. Jesus states that people are more shrewd when dealing with their own kind than are people of the light. “Shrewd here means “sensible,” or “wise,” or “insightful” (from the Greek phronimos-used only once in the Bible.). What is praised here is not the dishonesty but the foresight. Sometimes worldly people exercise better foresight than Christian people. The latter should know better.
I think that Jesus is being wise, or sensible, or insightful here. He lays down an important standard for being one of his followers – the exercise of godly wisdom.
Kyle Idleman, pastor at Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky, and author of the book Not a Fan, shared in his book:
When Jesus fed the 5000 in John Chapter 6, many fans started following him for the free stuff he gave. For many, it wasn’t Jesus they wanted; many were interested in only what he could do for them. Jesus wanted to offer himself. The question is, would that be enough? Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life…”. Suddenly, he is the only menu option. The crowd had a decision to make. Will Jesus be enough, or do they want something else to satisfy them? At the end of John 6 we read these words: “From that time on, many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.”. They were not willing to go with only Jesus.
When our daughter faith was in the band and playing at all the football games for her high school, I saw a shirt that got my attention. The boy was injured, so not in pads, but wore a shirt that stated, “Lineman…a community that has decided that easy is not acceptable.”. Now friends, that’s not only a fan; that’s a player!
I have always preached, “Believe in Christ!”. That is certainly good. But that is just the first step. To be a true Jesus follower, one must believe and follow. There are a lot of believers, I think. But I also think that there are less followers than we might imagine. Perhaps more fans than players. Maybe more admirers than doers.
Sometimes, us humans want more than a person. We want a person and the stuff he or she can give us. We often want things. We sometimes want property. We want more technology, more toys, more drinks, more wealth!
Worldly wealth has a purpose. Wealth can make a big difference in ones life. It can provide security and travel and comfort. Wealth can start a business that hires other people, giving them a job and security, etc. But, one day, wealth will be gone. If it does not disappear in this life, it will be left behind when we pass to the next. We can’t take it with us. So, how one uses wealth will affect ones eternity.
It boils down to this: who is your master? If it is God, then what you have, even if little, will grow, because God can trust you. If God is not our master, then what we have, great or small, will be taken away from us, in this life or in the life to come.
So, is God enough? Does Christ satisfy? Christ wants to give self rather than stuff. Any stuff we get as a result is a bonus. And that stuff should come under his authority and be available as needed for the building of the kingdom of God.
Nationally known Christian Contemporary recording artist performed at D & E last night. He sang a song called “Build a Boat.” He shared first that the song was about Noah, who, when given plans to build a colossal boat, did everything as God commanded. He didn’t complain, or talk back, or make excuses or put conditions on it. He simply did as he was told. He was obedient.
In the movie Fireproof, Caleb had to make a decision. He had to choose his computer or his wife. He was on the computer when he wasn’t at work. He was addicted to what his computer could provide. For him, it was impure images. When God convicted him, he dragged his computer outside and busted it up with a baseball bat. His neighbor thought he was nuts. But he was choosing God over a thing. That thing had become his god. He needed a dramatic break. Maybe God is asking you to break or to break-up with something that is in the way of Him being first. Today can be a day of freedom. Today can be a day to start fresh. What’s in the way? What needs to go?
For me to go into professional ministry, I had to give up pride. I thought ministers were weak and out of touch. I also had to give up control. I had to say “no” to self, which was a bigger thing, and say “yes” to a higher power, and give Him control. Maybe those are things that are in your way. For others, money might be in the way. For others, a person might be in the way. For still others, insecurity might be in the way. And yet for others, forgiveness might be in the way.
Jesus told another story, recorded in Matthew 18, where a manager was forgiven a great debt but in turn did not forgive others who owed him. His master gave him over to the tormentors. When we fail to forgive, we are given to the tormentors. We go through torment because we build a strong wall around our heart and become imprisoned. Prison is a torment. The only way to be free is to forgive. And you forgive by saying, “You know what? No one is perfect. Including me. We all make mistakes. We all hurt people. Some hurt to the worse degree. You know, I haven’t walked in anyone else’s shoes. The only shoes I can walk in are mine. I am going to choose to free them. I am letting go. I am letting them go.”
Welcome to your new day!