Our God is great; listen to His words and understand! God knows what is in your hearts!
These are the words of Rev. Cliff Krcha.
Today’s reading is on everyone’s favorite topic: MONEY! Jesus definitely invited God’s people to see money in a new way. I have good news for you. I will just tell you what Jesus said about money. I’ll keep my opinion out of it. This is always my goal: to read the Bible to you. I pray and pray and ask God to tell me what He wants me to say about each reading each week. My first task is to read it accurately. I add nothing. If I do add anything, I’ve prayed about it first.
Our reading today is called the “parable of the shrewd manager”. It could be called the “parable of the dishonest employee”. The Gospel reading is Luke chapter 16, verses 1-9. Jesus told this story to his disciples: “There was a certain rich man who had a manager handling his business. One day a report came that the manager was wasting his employer’s money. So the employer called him in and said, ‘What’s this I hear about you? Get your report in order, because you are going to be fired.’ The manager thought to himself, ‘Now what? My boss has fired me. I don’t have the strength to dig ditches, and I’m too proud to beg. Ah, I know how to ensure that I’ll have plenty of friends who will give me a home when I am fired.’
So he invited each person who owed money to his employer to come and discuss the situation. He asked the first one, ‘How much do you owe him?’ The man replied, ‘I owe him 800 gallons of olive oil.’ So the manager told him, ‘Take your bill and quickly change it to 400 gallons.’
‘And how much do you owe my employer?’ he asked the next man. ‘I owe him 1,000 bushels of wheat,’ was the reply. ‘Here,’ the manager said, ‘take your bill and change it to 800 bushels.’
The rich man had to admire the dishonest manager for being so shrewd. And it is true that the children of this world are more shrewd in dealing with the world around them than are the children of the light.
Here’s the lesson: Use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends. Then, when your earthly possessions are gone, they will welcome you to an eternal home. What you do matters to God. Your heart matters to God. When you put something in the offering plate, or take a meal to someone, or help at the food bank, or make cookies for prison ministry, HEART is number one. 2nd Corinthians chapter 9 reads: Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work. You will be enriched in every way for your great generosity, which will produce thanksgiving to God through us, for the rendering of this ministry not only supplies the needs of the saints but also overflows with many thanksgivings to God. (2 Co 9:7-13 NRS)
You cannot “earn” God’s love by giving. You don’t have to. It won’t work. God’s grace and love are free. And once we begin to realize just how much God loves us and saves us and heals us, we want others to know. That’s why we give to God’s church - so that the Kingdom of God can become real. We give because God gave to us first. God gave His only begotten Son. God gave us His all, not a little. God gives us all.
In today’s parable, Jesus is being sarcastic in verse 9. He is saying: “see this guy? He is going to lose his job.” He got very creative and managed to impress his boss that was going to fire him. He made some friends of the people who owed his boss money because he cut them a “sweetheart deal”. He was thinking: Hey, if I do get fired here, one of these folks I helped will help me. Jesus was being sarcastic when he said we should do the same thing.
This is an effective story to demonstrate a point: When you think you are going lose your job or lose your house or lose your land, it “sharpens” your mind and your focus. When everything is “on the line”, we pull out all the stops. In those “desperate” situations, we do more than “our best”, we do “whatever is necessary”.
That’s how Jesus wants us to view our work, our calling and how we live in the Kingdom. He wants us to be as “focused” on reaching the lost and the hurting and the blind as are when we think we might be losing our job.
Jesus follows up that teaching with a key Kingdom verse on “money”. He who is faithful with little is also faithful with much; and he who is dishonest with little is also dishonest with much (verse 10). When God does bless you with “a little”, be faithful with it so God can bless you with more.
Jesus cautions us: as we get “more”, it becomes very tempting to begin thinking the “abundance” is a reward for our faithfulness. No, the abundance is so we can be faithful in reaching the lost. “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (verse 13)
People can be “funny” about money. Christians can be “funny” about money. Our enemy can use your money to cause you to turn your back on the Lord. Verse 15 reads: “You like to appear righteous in public, but God knows your hearts. What this world honors is detestable in the sight of God.” Give out of love, not for any other reason.
Jesus taught 3 key things about money:
#1. Our heart must be right and cheerful.
#2. When God can trust you, He will bless you with an abundance.
#3. The abundance is for you and I to live and give in a way that the Kingdom of God on earth is real and present to everyone in Mason County, in Texas, in the United States, and in every country in the creation.
Giving is between you and God.
All we have to do is pray, and ask God what He wants. When we are obedient to God’s will and go and DO what He wants, He will supply ALL that we need. (2nd Corinthians chapter 9)
Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work. You will be enriched in every way for your great generosity, which will produce thanksgiving to God through us; For the rendering of this ministry not only supplies the needs of the saints but also overflows with many thanksgivings to God. (2 Co 9:7-13 NRS)
It’s never about money. It’s always about faith. It’s never about finance. It’s about you and I having faith in God, to provide abundantly so that the Kingdom of God might be real and present to all.
Maribelle Hoerster is celebrating her birthday today, September 25th. The 5th Sunday Worship service will be at the First Baptist in Mason next Sunday, September 29TH at 7:00pm
Pray for Pastor Cliff this weekend as he joins the Mexico Mission trip into Piedras Negras to work on the medical clinic in San Vincente.
Spend next Saturday at the Fall Festival at the Mason square supporting the women and children of the area churches as they raise money to educate children in poor countries.
The Church Conference for Trinity UMC in Castell is next Sunday from 9:30-10:30. A combined worship service will be at Art UMC at 11:00am with District Superintendent Rev. Larry Altman preaching and serving communion. Then, the Art UMC will have their Charge Conference in the Fellowship Hall with a light lunch being served. Make plans to attend these important meetings.