Monday, May 29, 2017

The Present of the Present

It is said that we can’t change the past or know the future, but we can fully embrace the present. And the present is just that – a gift from God.  Yet sometimes we either live in the past (with regret or longingly wishing for days gone by) or in the future (with worry or excessive planning).  But in Matthew 6:11, as part of the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus models for us to ask for our daily bread.  Let’s look at how we can enjoy life more and honor God when we live in the moment.

Matthew 6:11
“Give us this day our daily bread.”

Things to think about:
·       Do you find it challenging to be “in the moment”?
o   If so, do you find yourself in the past or the future and what are you thinking about?
·       The Apostle Paul tells us in Philippians 3:13, “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead…”
o   If you’re a “past person”, why is it important to leave the past in the past?
·      Jesus says in Matthew 6:33-34, “ But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
o   If you are a “future person”, how does this verse speak to you?
·      God makes provision for us today
o   Manna provided for the wandering Hebrews
o   Our daily bread as taught by the Lord
·      Life is a just a very long series of NOW
·      NOW
o   Needs being met – again in Matthew 6 Jesus talks about how God knows all of our needs will be met so it is pointless to spend the Present worrying about those things
o   Opportunity to serve - Hebrews 3:12-13, “See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”
§  We have opportunities all around us Today to encourage one another and thereby not inadvertently fall way from our faith through neglect
o   Watching God at work  - Isaiah 43:19, “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?”
§  May God give us eyes to see what He is doing everyday! May we be a part of His Kingdom work!
·      When someone gives you a present you can
o   open it, say thank you, and enjoy it
o   or you can leave it unopened
o   or you can open it and throw it away
·      How does Today’s study encourage you to receive God’s Present with thanksgiving?

Monday, May 22, 2017

It's Not Fair!

In Matthew 20: 1-16 we find the parable of the Workers in the Vineyard. A landowner hires men early in the morning to come work in his vineyard.  In three-hour intervals, he goes on to hire four more groups of men to add to his workforce. At the end of the day, he pays each of them a full day’s wage, starting with the men who had only been there an hour.  The guys who started out at the break of dawn and toiled in the heat of the day were outraged that others who came to work much later were getting the exact same pay.  The landowner replied that they agreed to work for the wages he offered, and besides, isn’t it his right to be as generous as he wants with his money?

Matthew 20:16
“So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

Things to think about:
·       Does it seem to you that the first workers were treated unfairly?
o   In our economy, we get generally paid on the basis of hours worked or based on our production
·      This employer found all of these men unemployed
o   He reached out to them and offered them a job
o   What were you doing when God found you?
o   Why was His deal better than the one you had?
·      In a spiritual sense, the angry workers represent our tendency to look to works-based theology
o   Why is this bad thing happening to me? Look how long I have served You Lord!  Look at all of the good deeds I’ve done!  It’s not fair!
o   Does this thought process ever creep into your thinking?
o   What is the major flaw with thinking that God owes us anything?
o   Job 41:11 - “Who has given to Me, that I should repay him? Whatever is under the whole heaven is Mine.”
o   Luke 17:10 – “So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’”

·      Let’s look at a few things that REALLY aren’t fair
o   Creator of everything and everyone was unrecognized and unappreciated
§  John 1: 9-10 “The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him. He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him.”
o   Perfect Son of God became sin for you
§  2 Corinthians 5:21 “God made Him who had no sin to be sin[b] for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.”

o   Jesus abused and mocked
§  Matthew 26:67-68 “Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him and said, “Prophesy to us, Messiah. Who hit you?”’
o   Jesus was betrayed by His friends
§  Judas handing Jesus over to the authorities in the Garden of Gethsemane
§  Peter in Matthew 26:74 “Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!”
o   Jesus dying on the cross for you
§  Philippians 2:8 “Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to His own advantage; rather, He made Himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!”
o   That we should be justified through no merit of our own
§  Romans 4:25 – “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.”
·      In God’s economy, the first shall be last and the last shall be first
o   Is that a fair system? Thanks be to God that it’s not fair (as men consider fairness)!
§  James 2:13b say “Mercy triumphs over justice”
o   How does this understanding of God’s upside down economy help you reconsider things in your life that may seem “unfair”?
o   How can you pass this “unfairness” on to those in your sphere of influence?
§  forgiveness
§  generosity

§  encouragement