Wise in Her Work- Proverbs Week 11- Day 3

She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.  (14)  She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar.  (15)  She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.  (16)  She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard. 

Proverbs 31:13-16 

Explanation:

Here you see the second quality of a virtuous woman.  She is wise in her work.  The virtuous woman is not idle.  She is busy making everything around her better.

In verse 13 you see her using raw textiles to create things with her hands.

In verse 14 you see her willing to go the extra mile to make meals the best they can be.

In verse 15 you see her getting up extra early to accomplish what she needs done.  She is preparing and presenting food to her entire household.

In verse 16 you see her making a purchase because of the extra income that she has made from her work.  What she purchases is not something of novelty, but rather an investment that will help her to make even more money.  Her investment will take hard work and management, but she is willing to go that way.  You see a growth here.

Application:

Here are four words that characterize wise work:

1.  Effort.

As you read about the work of the virtuous woman you see that she is making a real effort.  She is not shying away from tasks that are difficult.  Anything worth pursuing takes hard work and effort to achieve.  We must not be lazy and just “put in our time.”  We should make an effort in our daily work to make things better.

2.  Excellence.

The virtuous woman is not just fulfilling tasks, but is putting in the extra effort to make things the best that they can be.  She is pursuing excellence.  1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”  Everything we do should be done the best we can.  It’s an attitude that turns into an action.

3.  Early.

Notice that the virtuous woman got up early.  In the pursuit of excellence (#2) that happens when we make a real effort (#1), there will be times where going the extra mile means we get up early.  The idea here is that there has been a calculation and stewardship of our time.  This pursuit of excellence means we make sure we get to sleep early and rise early to give ourselves the best shot at excellence.

4.  Expansion.

Notice that her work in the cottage industry of textiles has lead to her purchase of a vineyard, an external industry.  You see here a growth in her production as there has been the pursuit of excellence.  She is growing, her production is growing, and her influence and resources expand as a result.  When we steward our effort well, there will be growth.

Response:

  • Would the description of your life and work be like the virtuous womans life and work?  
  • Are you lazy or industrious? 
  • Do you do things with effort?
  • Are you stewarding your time well? 
  • Is there an excellence to your work?  Are you growing?

Thrive- Proverbs Session 7- Proverbs 14:8-15

Session 7- Thrive

Proverbs 14:8-15

Session Resources- Click to Download:

Proverbs Session 7

Proverbs Handout Session 7

Proverbs Powerpoint Session 7

Subject:  Thriving

Central Theme: Choosing to thrive

Objective Sentence:  Believers can thrive when they choose wisely considering these four contrasts.

Keyword:  Contrast

Contrast #1- Prudence and Naivete.  (V.8,15)

Contrast #2- Contentedness and Selfishness (v.9,14)

Contrast #3- Inside and Outside (v.10, 13)

Contrast #4- Life and Death (v.11-12)

Introduction:

Connection:

  • I want to ask a question knowing that at it may seem politically incorrect.
  • Have you ever noticed the relationship between someone’s lifestyle and their countenance?
  • Any reasonable person would agree that the choices we make can affect our bodies.
  • This is true in a negative way and in a positive way.
  • Certain choices and behaviors lead to pain, heartache, difficulty and even a lack of good health.
  • Other choices make it possible to thrive even in difficult environments.

Tension:

  • God has given man the gift of agency.
  • He has given to us free-will.
  • With the gift of free-will comes the responsibility to make wise choices.
  • Some choices lead to thriving, while other choices lead to death.
  • The book of Proverbs is largely a book concerned with choices.
  • It tells us how we can live a life of Wisdom.
  • When we make wise choices around how God designed the world and desires it to work we will thrive.
  • When we go our own way the results in the end are the ways of death.
  • In today’s text we are told how to thrive. We are told which choices we can make so that our lives and eternities can be characterized by flourishing.

Believers can thrive when they choose wisely considering these four contrasts.

Contrast #1- Prudence and Naivete.  (v.8,15)

Pro 14:8  The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way: but the folly of fools is deceit. Pro 14:15  The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going.  

Explanation:

  • The passage in Proverbs this week has genre of poetic structure that was somewhat common in ancient near-eastern literature.
  • It’s called a “chiasm” or “chiastic structure”.
  • Chiastic structure, or chiastic pattern, is a literary technique in narrative motifs and other textual passages. An example of chiastic structure would be two ideas, A1 and B1, together with variants A2 and B2, being presented as A1,B1,B2,A2.
  • Let me give you an example from the New Testament:

Matthew_7:6

A1  Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, B1        neither cast ye your pearls before swine, B2        lest they trample them under their feet, A2  and turn again and rend you.

  • In this example it is obvious that the dogs are the ones “rending”, and the swine are the ones who “trample”.
  • The first phrase corresponds to the last phrase and the two phrases in the middle correspond to each other.
  • Traditionally the innermost part of the Chiasm is what is being emphasized.
  • Chiasm’s can be a small as one verse, and as large as whole chapters.  It has even been suggested that Luke and Acts, 2 parts of one work by the same author, are written as a chiasm.

The scripture we are studying this week in Proverbs are written in chiastic structure.  Consider the text this way:

  • A1(8) The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way: but the folly of fools is deceit.  
    • B1 (9)  Fools make a mock at sin: but among the righteous there is favour.  
      • C1 (10)  The heart knoweth his own bitterness; and a stranger doth not intermeddle with his joy.
        • D1 (11)  The house of the wicked shall be overthrown: but the tabernacle of the upright shall flourish.  
        • D2  (12)  There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.
      • C2 (13)  Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful; and the end of that mirth is heaviness.  
    • B2 (14)  The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways: and a good man shall be satisfied from himself.  
  • A2  (15)  The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going.
  • Now that you see the way the text is structured you can see why I have grouped the verses as I have.
    • Usually we read the verses a couple at a time and walk through the passage.
    • This week we are going to walk through the passage according to this pattern.
  • First, let’s look at verses 8 and 15.
  • Notice that verses 8 and 15 contrasts two kinds of people.  Let’s look at these verses say about each one.
  • First, we meet the prudent person.
    • The prudent person seeks to “understand his way” in verse 8.
    • And in verse 15 the prudent man “looketh well to his going”.
    • These verses explain that a prudent person thinks about how they are living and what they are doing.
    • The prudent person is not haphazard about decisions and direction.  They take it very seriously.  They think and plan considering what God wants.
  • Next, we meet the naive person.
    • These are 2 descriptive names that describe the same kind of person.
    • In verse 15 you see the simple person as one who “believeth every word”.
    • In verse 8 the fool’s folly is deceit.  The idea is that they believe people who tell them lies, not looking to their way because they want to believe the lies they are being told.
    • They may believe every word because they do not take the time to think about what they are being told and are therefore naive.
    • In contrast to the prudent who thinks carefully about their way, the fool does not and suffers for it.  It is their folly.

Application:

The application is pretty clear, but can be as profound as you make it.  Which person are you?  Prudent or simple? Wise or foolish?

Are you a naive person?

  • A naive person does not take time to plan their lives.
    • Life happens to them and they react.
    • They do not think about the way they are living.
    • There is no introspection, evaluation, or planning.
  • A naive person takes what they are told only at face value.
    • A simple person never investigates or verifies what they are being told.
    • They are easily deceived.
    • Have you ever questioned any of your basic assumptions?
      • You see, everyone has faith in something.
      • No person can know everything, but that does not mean you cannot know anything.  Do not become easy prey for the enemies of God.

Are you a prudent person?

  • What habits or processes do you have to investigate your life?  Do you think about how you are living?
    • Do you have a daily “quiet time” in which you talk to God and let the Word of God discern the thoughts and intents of your heart?
    • Do you have a plan for your time, called a schedule?
    • Do you have a plan for your resources, called a budget?

Response:

  • As you have read the contrast between the naive and prudent person today what actions do you need to take to begin to live prudently?

Contrast #2- Contentedness and Selfishness (v.9,14)

(9) Fools make a mock at sin: but among the righteous there is favour…(14)The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways: and a good man shall be satisfied from himself. Proverbs 14:9,14

Explanation:

  • A second literary concern also helps us understand this text. There are Chapters 10-14 uses parallelism. They are mostly one sentence contrasts or comparisons.
  • In verses 9 and 14 you have two kinds of people. Each respective description are describing the same kind of person.
  1. The Selfish Person.
  • The passage says that the fool makes a mock at sin.
    • This means that the fool takes sins lightly.
    • They don’t view sin as a grave offense against God and may not even see it as a category at all.
  • The “backslider in heart” speaks of someone who has the fools perspective on sin and God.
    • This phrase is used in the Old Testament to speak of someone who ignores or disbelieves in God.
    • Verse 9 seems to talk about the actions of the foolish/backslider in heart, and verse 14 seems to describe the result of that action.
    • The fools mock sin, and then are “filled with their own ways.”
      • This means that they discontented with God’s way, and full of their own way.
      • They are filled with themselves. They are selfish and obsessed with themselves.
      • This also means that he will be “fully repaid” for his actions. He gets the natural consequences of his actions.
  1. The Satisfied Person.
  • The righteous find favor with God because of their attitude and interaction with sin.
  • The result, found in verse 14, is satisfaction of the best kind.
  • They are contented with the natural result of living according to God’s way and reaping those blessings.

Application:

  • We can tell what kind of person we are, according to this passage, by our attitude toward sin. Here are some questions to ask ourselves:
  1. Do I take sin seriously, or do I think that sin is “no big deal”?
  2. Am I allowing an acceptable level of sin in my life? Are there sins I am participating in that no longer bother me?
  3. When I think about the sin in my life, do I compare myself to others, or think “everyone does this”, trying to minimize our guilt?
  • If the answer is yes to these kinds of questions, then know that if you do not deal with these issues you are a “fool and backslider of heart”.
  • At some point you will be “fully repaid” or facing the consequences of this involvement in sin.
  • Choose the contentedness that comes from living God’s way! How? Consider the response below.

Response:

The challenge today is to name the sins, pray a prayer of repentance, and make a plan to forsake that sin with God’s help, and possibly the help of others in your family or local church.

Contrast #3- Inside and Outside (v.10, 13)

Explanation:

  • Both of these verses speak about the heart of a person- the inner man, and make some interesting points.

Verse 10- The Privacy of the Heart.

The heart knoweth his own bitterness; and a stranger doth not intermeddle with his joy.  (Proverbs 14:10)

  • In verse 10, the author indicates that there are some emotions felt so deeply, like bitterness and joy, that they can only be fully accessed or fully felt by the individual.
  • No matter how clearly you speak, or how passionately you share what you feel, there is a part that cannot be felt by another person.
  • It is difficult to express on the outside exactly what is being experienced on the inside.

Verse 13- The Sorrow of the Heart.

Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful; and the end of that mirth is heaviness.  (Proverbs 14:13)

  • We must take verse 13 as a possibility and even a probability and not necessarily as universally true.
  • The idea is that laughter and “mirth” are not always an indicator that everything is ok.
  • There are those who may be laughing or smiling on the outside, but internally are dealing with sorrow.
  • As in verse 10, there is the possibility that someone’s expressed feelings or demeanor do not disclose the totality of their emotional or intellectual state.
  • Again, this is particularly true with joy and sorrow.

Application:

  • The implications of these truths are profound.  We are all called to minister as believers.
  • We are told to feel something along with other people.

Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. (Rom 12:15)

Here are three implications that we must recognize:

  1. Recognize the Uniqueness of a Person’s Grief or Joy
  • As we minister to people it is important to understand that each person’s grief and joy is unique to them.
  • We can sympathize with their pain, but we cannot know exactly what they are thinking or how they are feeling.
  • I have had the chance to walk with people through difficulty very similar to things that I have experienced, and this verse conveys to me that I must be careful about saying things like, “I know exactly how you feel”, or “I’ve been exactly where you are.”  A better alternative would be to say, “I can’t know exactly how you feel or what you’ve thinking but I have endured something similar and this is my experience.”  There is a compassion in this.  We can sympathize with them while allowing them the room to express as best they can what they are dealing with so that we can minister to them well.
  1. Recognize that We Can Assume Wrongly about Another Person’s Emotional and Spiritual Health.
  • There are times where people look like everything is great on the outside but are struggling internally.
    • As this verse seems to relate, we could be laughing one moment and crying the next.
    • They may “put on a front”.  They smile and greet you.  You ask them how they are, a common greeting, and the answer will always be “Fine, thank you.”  And yet they may not be fine.  Not really.
  • If this is true of others it can be true of ourselves.
    • We must recognize this reality and know that it is not healthy to isolate ourselves.
    • We must find people to share our thoughts and feelings with, and we must be a safe person in which others can confide.
  1. Recognize that the only person who can perfectly know our hearts is Jesus Christ.

This is not explicit in this passage but is known to be true in principle by the scriptures.  Consider these verses:

If we have forgotten the name of our God, or stretched out our hands to a strange god; Shall not God search this out? for he knoweth the secrets of the heart. Psalm 44:20-21

  • And in 1 Samuel…

But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7

  • Now you may read the previous two verses and think, “God knows and see’s my heart!  That is not comforting.  I’ll just get in trouble.”
  • I share your sentiment, yet I would counsel the both of us with two thoughts.
    • First, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.  Knowing that God knows our hearts makes me want to make sure it is right before Him.
    • Secondly, the One who knows our hearts became one of us and died for our sins in our place.

Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. (Heb 4:14-16)

  • We can trust the Lord with our hearts.
  • We can go to him boldly and share with Him, best we can, what we are feeling.
  • When we do we can trust that our hearts are understood beyond what are words are able to express.  He weeps with us.  He rejoices with us.
  • This God who knows our hearts has promised to save us.

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (Rom 10:9-10)

  • He will cleanse our hearts and restore our joy when we ask.

Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. (Psa 51:10,12)  

Response:

  • Is there someone in your life that you need to rejoice with or with whom you should weep?
  • Is there a sin that you should confess to God today?
  • How is your prayer life?

If you want to thrive, you must acknowledge the realities of the inner man and outer man, and go to God in prayer with the struggles of our heart.

Contrast #4- Life and Death (v.11-12)

Explanation:

  • When it comes to a chiastic structure, which is the literary device used here, the middle of the chiasm is what is typically being emphasized and gives a clue to the theme of the text. Verses 11 and 12 are the middle verses of this passage.

The house of the wicked shall be overthrown: but the tabernacle of the upright shall flourish. There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. (Proverbs 14:11-12)

  • Notice what happens to the house of the wicked. It is overthrown.
    • What does an overthrown house look like?
      • Windows are broken. Doors are off their hinges. Everything valuable in the home is broken or taken. There are holes in the roof and nature is coming through. The yard is overgrown and taking over the concrete outside.
    • Look at the contrast. The tabernacle of the upright will flourish.
      • The word for flourish is also translated blossom or budded.
      • It is used 37 times in the King James Bible and is synonymous with life and growth.
    • In all these verses there has been a contrast between God’s Way and man’s way. There is the way of wisdom (God’s way) and the way of the foolish (man’s way).
    • There is a way that seems right to men…
      • In context the way that seems right would be
        • To practice deceit and be naive (vs. and 15)
        • To take sin lightly and make plans devoid of God’s wisdom only consulting ourselves (vs. and 14),
        • To endure sorrow or try to attempt to express joy but never to God (vs.10 and 13).
      • The ends thereof (the results) are “the ways of death”.
    • There is also a way that is right with God…
      • Also in context it would be
        • To think through life and how it ought to be lived (vs. and 15)
        • To be satisfied with the blessing that comes from obedience (vs. and 14)
        • To express the depths of our feeling to God in prayer (vs.11 and 13).
      • The results of doing things right way to “flourish”. It means to thrive!

Application:

  • Do you want to thrive? Do you want the pattern of your time on earth to be characterized by life? Or do you want your life on earth to be like the overthrown house, ravaged by the “ways of death”?
  • Moses pleaded with his people in the wilderness over this very issue. Read Deuteronomy 30:19-20.

I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:  (20)  That thou mayest love the LORD thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them. Deuteronomy 30:19-20  

Response:

  • This is really the response that is encouraged by this whole text. Will we choose the way of wisdom and therefore life? Or will we choose the way that seems right to us, but whose end is death?
  • Wisdom or Foolishness?
  • God’s way or our way?
  • Life or Death?
  • CHOOSE LIFE!!!

Conclusion:

Believers can thrive when they choose wisely considering these four contrasts.

Contrast #1- Prudence and Naivete.  (V.8,15)

Contrast #2- Contentedness and Selfishness (v.9,14)

Contrast #3- Inside and Outside (v.10, 13)

Contrast #4- Life and Death (v.11-12)

Invest

Neighborhood Missions Trip-  Invest
Text: Luke 16:1-13

Introduction:
Connection:
• It’s fall. Can you feel it in the air? The weather really did turn some this week.
• With this season comes one of my favorite things: Pies!
• How many of you love pies? Pumpkin Pie, Pecan Pie, Buttermilk Pie.
• Today I want to teach you something about pie, and what it has to do with being a missionary.
Tension:
• You see over the past couple of weeks pastor has been challenging us in this area of our personal evangelism.
• We are doing a campaign as a church called “Neighborhood Missions Trip”.
• We want you to begin to see your neighborhood as a mission field, and yourself as a missionary.
• Pastor Frazier has made these two statement that embody the mission of our church:

Missions is not about geography. Missions is about people. – Pastor Frazier

Every person is either a mission field, or should be a missionary. – Pastor Frazier

• With this emphasis we are asking every person to take three actions as a neighborhood missionary.
• Identify, Invest, and Invite.
• Over the past two weeks Pastor has been challenging us to identify people in our neighborhoods who need Christ.
 We learned that the United States is the 4th largest mission field in the world by population.
 We learned that Stark County has 190,000 people that claim no church affiliation.
• Today I want to talk to you about that second action- investing. What does it look like to invest in the lives of our neighbors? – especially people who need Christ?
• And as I thought about that particular question, it lead me to a parable of Jesus found in Luke 16.
• Jesus sometimes taught very unexpectedly.
• This particular text teaches us something very important about investing in the lives of people.
• But it teaches us from a very bad example.

Luke 16:1-13 (KJV)
1 And he said also unto his disciples,

• The audience here is the disciples.
• The speaker is Jesus.

There was a certain rich man, which had a steward;

• 1st character- Rich man. A person who had more than he needs.
• As we see later in the story, this is a man that was most likely an absentee land owner.
• He lived some distance away from his land and that necessitated the need for the second character here.
• He had a lot of money. He had a lot of influence. He had a lot of responsibility.
• Because of this he had this second and main character…
• A steward.
• A person hired by the rich man to take care of his personal affairs in regards to the business of the land that was owned.
• By virtue of the amounts that are listed later on, this was a large responsibility for a large conglomerate of farms.
• He would have overseen the internal and external operations of the farms, the finances, the accounts that his rich boss had, and more.
• It was a position of some economic and social status.
• But look at what happened….

and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods.

• Steward was accused of mismanagement of the owner’s goods.
• The word got back to the rich man that he had “wasted” his good.
• The word here is – dee-as-kor-pid’-zo- disperse, scatter (abroad), strew, waste.
• We don’t know if the accusation was completely true, but we have some idea that there may have been some merit to it based on the steward’s response.

2 And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward.

• The Steward gets called in by his boss. The boss informs him that he’s heard the accusation and its time to open the books and give an accounting.
• What is at stake? “For thou mayest be no longer steward.”
• In the words of Donald Trump- “Your fired.”
• If you were accused of this kind of mismanagement and you were guiltless, you would quickly go and get the books, print out the reports and the bank statements to prove your innocence and fight for your job.
• This is not what this steward does. Look at his response. We get to see what he thinks.

3 Then the steward said within himself, What shall I do? for my lord taketh away from me the stewardship: I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed.

• I need a plan!! And I need it fast.
• If I were to put this story into a modern setting, I imagine the boss leaving the office to give the man time to print out the reports. I’ll be back later.
• The steward leans back in his chair, not knowing what to do. He needs a plan!
• “I can’t do manual labor! I’m a white collar guy. I don’t want to get my hands dirty.”
• I’m certainly not one of those cardboard holding beggars at the end of an exit ramp!”
• He asks this question regarding His own future- “What shall I do?”
• What do I do? What resources are available to me that I can leverage for the future?
• And then he has a “Eureka” moment!

4 I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.

• I’m going to use the last little bit of influence that I have in my official capacity as steward to leverage it for a better job.
• Specifically, I want to make people connect with me, and “receive me into their houses.”
• Take note of this phrase as it is key to understanding the passage.
• He specifically says that he is planning this entire response so that later after he is fired “they may receive me into their houses.”
• I need to be “in” with people of means so that I can be set up for an even better job and future.
• So he executes the plan…

5 So he called every one of his lord’s debtors unto him, and said unto the first, How much owest thou unto my lord?

• How much do you owe? – Weird question right? If he was a good steward, he wouldn’t have to ask!
• You want your accountant to know to the penny!

6 And he said, An hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty.

• Anyway, he cuts a deal. Pay us now, and I’ll only charge you half.
• “Quickly”- Swindlers always want to do things quickly. He was a “fast talker”.
• So he is giving the debtor a deal, and of course it doesn’t cost him anything. He’s going to lose his job anyway.
• You can almost hear him saying, “Now remember your good friend when I come by next week. You owe me one.”
• In fact, this was an honor culture that emphasized reciprocation.
• If I honored you publicly, then the expectation was that you would do the same for me.
• If I did you a favor, the expectation is that you would pay me back.
• This steward is banking on the fact that these people would feel obligated to take care of him, and specifically the peer pressure to take care of him because he is “taking care” of so many of his masters debtors.

7 Then said he to another, And how much owest thou? And he said, An hundred measures of wheat. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and write fourscore.

• Apparently this particular method was used multiple times.
• Although in the story he didn’t give everyone the same percentage deal. The first guy got half off, and this guy only gets 20%.
• But remember, the stewards stated goal is: “that they would receive me into their houses.”
• The nature of the text and of the parable is that this man did this with more than just these two. He repeated this process with all of his master’s debtors.
• And so, he has taken a very bad consequence- losing his job because he got caught- and made it into a circumstance in which he has job offers and means for his future lined up.
• He can take his pick of the offers because of his shrewd tactics.
• It really cost him almost nothing.
• It wasn’t even his money, and yet now all of these people of means owe him back.
• Now before you read on, know that this is where the parable gets a little tricky.
• You would expect that Jesus would not want to use anyone of this kind of character as an example of someone to imitate.
• And the truth is that He doesn’t want us to completely imitate him, but he does want to point out something interesting.
• Notice the reaction of “the lord”- specifically the boss of this steward.

8 And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely:

 

• What was the reaction? “Commendation”. He commended him.
• Look at the description- the unjust steward. This is where we get the title of the man in Jesus’ story. He was unjust. He was not right. He did wrong, and yet he was commended.
• According to Jesus, the boss commended the unjust steward because of the strategic move that the man made.
• You can imagine the Lord of this man saying to him,
 “Where has this ingenuity and strategic thinking been all along?
 You took your “two week notice” and set yourself up for the rest of your life.
 You did this with my money and my influence to set up your future.
 Why hadn’t you done this in the first place? I never would have wanted to fire you!”
• Then Jesus made this particular statement about the man’s shrewd actions:
for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.
• The whole reason for the parable is to bring up this phrase.
• Jesus sees something in the mindset of this man that he wants us to have.
• To be clear, he is not wanting us to be dishonest. But he does want us to be shrewd.
• If we’re going to be people who are effective as missionaries in our own neighborhoods, then we must invest in people.
• Jesus wants to point out the mindset of this man to have us to adopt it.
• But instead of being wise in worldly, unjust matters, he wants to be wise- he wants us to be shrewd.

We can invest shrewdly by adopting three mindsets.

Mindset #1- Be strategic. V. 1-9

• The idea here is that the unjust steward is so focused and relentless on getting what he wanted that he made strategically shrewd moves that helped further his future.
• Jesus is essentially saying, this man who does this evil business is so much more shrewd and wise in his dealings than the way people who follow Christ are in our dealings.
• You know what Jesus is talking about because you’ve seen it.
• You’ve seen people go in and make shrewd business deals, maybe even shady deals to make money and come out smelling like roses.
• People spend so much of their time figuring out ways to make money. They are good at it.
• Notice that “the lord”- the man’s boss who is also corrupt- commends the steward. Jesus does not.
• What Jesus does point out is this. Lost, unregenerate people think more strategically and wisely about how to deal with their temporary lives than what believers and followers of Christ do about eternal matters.
• This unjust steward leveraged his small, waning influence to make a big difference in his future.
• Jesus says that we ought to leverage our influence in a similarly strategic way, but for something much more eternal and important.
• Why do I say that? Because of the correlation that he makes in verse 9.

9 And I say unto you,

• “And I say unto you”- here is his big point.
• Who is he speaking to?
 Children of light- v8
 Disciples- v.1

…make to yourselves friends…

• “Make to yourselves friends”-
• Gain relationships.
• Grow in influence.
• Grow in impact.
• How?

of the mammon of unrighteousness;

• “of the mammon of unrighteousness”-
• The words here “Of the”- ek tou- “out of the mammon” or “from the mammon”, or “using the mammon”
• Mammon is a word for money or wealth.
• He’s not saying become friends with the temporary wealth itself.
• He is saying make friends using temporary wealth.
• Leverage what is temporary for making friends…Why?

that, when ye fail,

• “fail”- eklipo – die

they may receive you into everlasting habitations.

• “they”- who is they? The friends!!!!!!! The friends you made using the temporary wealth- the money!
• What are they going to do because of the influence you leveraged?
• “receive you into everlasting habitiations”
• You see everyone that knows Christ will go to heaven, but not everyone will have the same welcoming committee.
• This man, the unjust steward, had just a short amount of time, and access to someone else’s resources, and he used it to set up a more than comfortable life for himself for his immediate future.
• What Jesus is saying here is this: You and I have a short amount of time on this earth, and everything we have is really something God’s. We should take our limited time on this earth, and the resources we have to invest, not to make the next 5, 10, 20, 40 years to be comfortable for us, but that eternity would be changed in the lives of people all around us.
• So that brings me to the pie. You thought I’d never get to the pie. 
• Pies don’t cost that much.
• How much does it cost to make a pie?
• For the cost of some eggs, some sugar, some vanilla, some ….. and an hour or two you can make a pie.
• Pies are temporary.
• At my house pies are very temporary. 
• I don’t know very many people who don’t like pie.
• Who wants a pie? (Give the pies to someone!)
• But here’s the illustration:
• Could it be conceivable that someone could make a pie and use the pie to give as a gift to either introduce themselves to a neighbor, or to invest in the relationship of a neighbor? Do you think that God could use that introduction to lead to a conversation where a person hears about Christ?
• Could it be conceivable that a stay-at-home mom could befriend another mom on her street and invite her over for some pie and that setting leads to gospel conversations?
• You see, your temporary pie, your temporary time on earth, your temporary mammon can be leveraged, if you are shrewd, to make an eternal difference in the life of people.
• And think about it- How much more do you own than what it takes to make a pie!!!!!!
• We have homes!
• We have yards!
• We have cars!
• We have phones!
• We have internet connected computers in our pockets.
• If it is conceivable that we can use a pie to reach someone, what about all of the other wealth we have?
• How many times in the gospels is Jesus eating in people’s homes?
• In the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus
• Think about the early church:
Acts 2:44-47 (44) And all that believed were together, and had all things common; (45) And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. (46) And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,(47) Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
• What if our entire church took on the mindset of a missionary, and just for a couple months passionately leveraged their wealth for the sake of eternity? I believe it would look like the early church which grew at a daily rate!

Mindset #2- Be faithful. (v.10-12).

10 He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.

• This is exactly how it life works.
• Many people who are poor give like the widow in the Bible gave all she had.
• Many who have much don’t give anything.
• The amount isn’t the issue. What is the issue? Faithfulness.

11 If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? 12 And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own?

• This is a basic understanding of our eternal reward: How we steward our lives here effects our reward there.
• Notice here that he connects faithfulness with our wealth to investing our wealth for eternal things.
• If you only use your wealth for things that don’t matter in eternity then you are not faithfully stewarding what God has given you.

Luke 12:33-34- (33) Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth. (34) For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

The only way to be a faithful steward of our resources is to have an eternal perspective.

Mindset #3- Be focused. V.13

13 No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

• What you are focused on tells about who you are serving.
• If you are focused only on this life, only on the temporary, then you are serving a master that is not God.
• If you are focused on eternity, and on what God values, then you are serving God.
• Jesus says here, “you can not serve God and mammon”.
• By implication though with the context the truth is this: “Ye cannot serve God and mammon, but you can serve God with mammon.”
When we focus on God and eternity we will invest wisely.
• You can take your temporary wealth and use it to invest in eternity.
• You can’t take it with you, but you can send it ahead!

Conclusion

• Let me tell you about something that has recently happened in our church-
• Story of Anthony and Deanna…
 Roger- Wendys
 Edith- Block Party
 Trent- GROW
• When it comes to our neighborhood, is it strategic to live near people and never meet them or speak to them?
• When it comes to our neighborhood, is it faithful to live near people and never invest in that relationship, knowing that they are eternal?
• When it comes to our neighbors, are we showing that we are focused on God as our master if we don’t share Christ with these eternal people?
• As believers we should be shrewd!
• Your house, Your car, Your stuff— None of it will not be in heaven, but your neighbors should be. How are you investing?

Mark Series- Session 11: Responding to the Second Coming

Mark Series Header

Mark 13:24-37

Discussion Question– What summer plans or events are you most anticipating?

Every believer can respond to the reality of the second coming by recognizing four components to Jesus’s teaching about His return.

Component #1- Chaos (v.1-25, 24-25)
Mar 13:24-25
(24) But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light,
• “in those days”-
o Jesus started this teaching in response to the disciples
 1. Mentioning of the temple in verses 1-3 and
 2. Asking when that destruction of the temple would be.
o He uses this term in verses 17, 19 and 24 to speak about the times he is describing, sometime in the future.
o Some of the qualities he says about this time in verses 1-23
 False teaching (v.5-6)
 False Christ’s (v.5-6, 22)
 Wars (v.7-8)
 Earthquakes (v.8)
 Persecution (v.9)
 Gospel proclamation expanded (v.10)
 Betrayal (V.12-13)
 Abomination of Desolation spoken of in Daniel (v.14)
 Unprecedented affliction (v.19)
 False prophets (v.22)
(25) And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken.
 Sun moon and stars will be darkened (v. 24-25)
• It will be a time of unprecedented chaos.
• And in the midst of this chaos the world will see hope and wrath all in one moment…

Component #2- Coming (v.26-27)

Mar 13:26-27
(26) And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.
(27) And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven.
• Against the backdrop of chaos, war, spiritual wickedness and confusion we see Christ coming and conquering.
• It’s the story all others stories are pointing to. The hero comes to save the day. Why does this resonate with us? Because we long for all that is wrong to be made right. We long for justice. We long for resolution, and yet we realize that we are part of the dissonance.
• And Christ who was sacrificed, dead, is risen…and here He comes again!
• From the song, “In the Night”

And I can see the Son of Man descending
And the sword he swings is brighter than the dawn
And the gates of hell will never stand against him
And in the night, in the night, in the night my hope lives on!

• Here is some good news- We come with him. V. 27 says we’ll be gathered with him in His coming- those who have been redeemed. If you know Christ as Savior you will be on the right and winning side.
• Believers will be drawn from all over the world and in heaven.

Now let’s recognize the 3rd component of the teaching on Jesus’ return…

Component #3- Confirmation (v.28-31)

Mar 13:28-31
(28) Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When her branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is near:
• The fig tree was the plant in that area of the world with the most visible evidence to the season of the year.
• This was an agrarian culture, and so they would have been a lot more familiar with plant life and working than we are.
• But even we understand that leaves come to full fruition, and fruit is being born out during the summer. Winter is death, Spring is new life, Summer brings growth, and fall becomes the time for harvest.
(29) So ye in like manner, when ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it is nigh, even at the doors.
• When you see all that is described in verses 1-25, know that verse 26-27 are soon to come.
• How soon?
(30) Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done.
• How long is a generation? One lifetime? 60-70, 100 years?
• In the grand scheme of history and eternity, it’s not long.
• And then he gives this assurance…
(31) Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.
• Essentially, this prophecy is more long lasting and sure than the very earth that you are standing on.
• You can take my words to the bank.

This leads us to recognize the 4th component of the teaching on Jesus’ return…Our response…

Component #4- Commands (v.32-37)

Mar 13:32-37
(32) But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.
• The exact time is known only by the Father.
• Some believe that this is still true. Some believe it was true at the time that Jesus stated it.
• Now that Jesus has returned bodily to heaven does he know the exact time? Absolutely.
• The point is, for sure, we don’t know.
• There have been many who have tried to predict when Christ would come.
• Radio evangelist Harold Camping was so certain that the Rapture would occur on May 21, 2011 that he staked his entire reputation on it. His company, Family Radio, spent more than $5,000,000 on 5,000 billboards announcing the date and a media frenzy followed.
• A group I really enjoy wrote a song about the guy who did this… called “The 21st of May”

It’s time to bid this whole world goodbye
Oh, glory, time to fly away
We’ll meet our savior in the sky
Hallelujah, the 21st of May
Well, I’ve never been so sure
And I’ve never led no one astray
‘Cept in the fall of ’94
But Hallelujah, the 21st of May

• Unfortunately people trying to predict have made the return of Christ a mockery.
• But be sure…
(33) Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.
• Just because you don’t know when He’s coming back doesn’t mean that he’s not coming back.
• Then an illustration…
• What are the 2 commands?
o Watch
o Pray…
• Illustration…
(34) For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch.
(35) Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning:
(36) Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping.
(37) And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.
• Watch!
• Pray!

Discussion Questions:
1. As the chaos in the world “in those days” is described by Jesus, do you see any relation to that time and our time today? Explain.
2. What kind of response does Jesus return bring to the following people?
• An unbeliever?
• An immature believer?
• A spiritually mature believer?
3. 2 Commands were explicitly stated – watch and pray. What does each of these commands look like in your life this week?
4. Prayer Requests

Family Devotions and Discussions

e8a51f0a-2bf4-47a3-ac48-97c2d74b0d1c