August - Reading 9

Discussion in 'Bible Reading Plan 2016' started by Clint Kritzer, Aug 9, 2002.

  1. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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  2. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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    Good evening –

    Tonight we begin what is perhaps my favorite Book of the Bible, Nehemiah. In 13 short chapters Nehemiah tells the story of how one man can make all the difference. This Book tells us about prayer, staying the course and facing down opposition.
    Nehemiah is the leader of the final wave of returning exiles. He has a prominent position in the court of Artaxerxes, that of cup bearer. A cup bearer had the responsibility of tasting the kings wine to make sure that it was not poisoned. The story opens with Nehemiah hearing of the wall around the city of Jerusalem lying in ruins. We have already witnessed the great pride felt by the Jews concerning the city and Nehemiah is no exception, He weeps and prays over this matter.
    Nehemiah is asked by the king about his obvious depression and Nehemiah, after a very brief, silent prayer, tells the king of his troubles and rather boldly asks the king’s permission for an extended leave from service in order to go straighten out the problems he sees in his homeland.
    The reading tonight ends with Nehemiah charging the people with the tasks of rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem and facing down the first of his opponents. This opposition will grow as the tasks progresses.

    Our reading in Luke tonight stopped a little short in my opinion. The passage is continued on through verse 15 and is explained there. One point that I feel is made in this reading today, however, is that God expects us to be good stewards of His money.

    The first 10 verses of 1Timothy 6 show us the other side of that coin. The NIV says that the love of money is A root of all kinds of evil. This fits well with Christ’s teachings on serving two masters. The verses before, 3 – 5, show us indicators of how we can recognize the false teachers among us. This is not in reference to debate such as we experience here, but is rather talking about the malicious back-biting and slander that occurs within our churches.

    May God bless you

    - Clint
     
  3. Aaron

    Aaron
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    The Parable of the Dishonest Steward:

    The children of this world are more industrious in their preparation for their future than are God's children. The point is that we should be about the business of heaven as diligently as the worldly folks are at preparing for their retirement.
     
  4. dianetavegia

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    Clint, thank you for the work you do here. This thread always reminds me of our great need to be in God's word daily!

    Diane
     
  5. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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    Sunday School lecture - 1/11/04 Part VI

    The Invitations of Wisdom and Folly (Proverbs 9)

    The Invitation of Wisdom (9:1-6)


    The portrayal of Wisdom in this Passage is much like that of the seductress in 7:6-23. However, Wisdom offers life instead of death. Her wares are just as attractive as the loose woman's but the results of the man giving into her lead the man to Godliness.

    The "seven pillars" of Wisdom's house have given rise to many interpretations. Seven is a holy number in the Scriptures representing completeness. Some think that the pillars are the Laws and the Prophets. Regardless, they show the stability of the home.

    The Uselessness of Correcting a Scoffer (9:7-12)

    These verses show that there are those for whom Wisdom's instructions are wasted. The Passage puts men in two categories: the wise and the scoffers. The wise fear God while the scoffer is the incorrigible, arrogant cynic who opposes God.

    These verses tone down the optimism of verses 1-6 and serve as a buffer between the invitations of Wisdom and Folly.

    The Invitation of Folly (9:13-18)

    Like Wisdom, the foolish woman also has a house and she sends her invitation to the inexperienced. She sits in her doorway like a prostitute trying to coax in the foolish. In contrast to Wisdom's meal of meat and wine, Folly offers bread and water. Wisdom invites men as a teacher where Folly invites them with seduction. Her meal is a death meal. Her house is not only a portal to Sheol, but is rather death itself.
     
  6. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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    Sunday School Lecture – 3/28/04 Part III

    1Timothy 6:1-2a Conduct of Slaves

    Paul concludes his imperatives regarding conduct among the members of the church by addressing the conduct of the slave class. This sect was likely a large percentage of the early church and though they had no control over their situation, they did have control over their attitudes and conduct.

    Paul addresses two specific circumstances in which a Christian slave could find himself - under a heathen master or under a Christian master.

    When the slave had a heathen master, he was to not be resentful of his servitude. As he instructed Onesimus, being a servant to Christ should make one a better servant to man. In showing respect to their masters these slaves would prevent the church and Christ from being spoken of badly.

    In the second instance, slaves who were under the rule of converted masters were to refrain from taking liberties due to the equality offered by the church. This indicates that there may have been a problem with slaves within the church taking advantage of their masters "on the grounds that they were brethren." In Christ, all are to be servants of one another. Therefore it should not have irked a Christian to be a slave. Their believing masters would benefit from their labors offering an incentive to compliance.

    Sunday School lecture - 4/4/04 Part I

    As we conclude our study of the Letter of 1Timothy, Paul gives Timothy some final orders regarding the false teachers within the Ephesian church, his primary concern and the first topic of discussion in the Letter.

    1Timothy 6:2b-10 False Teachers and True Contentment

    As is so characteristic of Pauline writing, Paul inserts a transitory phrase into the text to begin this Passage. He tells Timothy to "teach and urge these things." One can apply these words to the preceding Passages concerning conduct of the congregation, they could apply to the final instructions to follow or to the whole Letter. In literary terms, the phrase ties in the next paragraph as a continued train of thought.

    Paul begins by renewing his attack on his opponents. These enemies of the church would be recognized by the criteria of standing in opposition to Paul's own teachings, just as we see in Galatians 1:8-9. All true teaching of the Gospel must accord with "godliness" and "the sound words of our Lord, Jesus Christ." The phrase "Words of our Lord" may refer to Christ's own teachings or sound words that teach about Him. Either and both interpretations are acceptable. The teachings of Christ are the standard by which all other doctrine must be judged.

    The errorists, however, had fallen into speculation about the Law, an act that did not produce proper piety. Instead it produced personal conceit and controversy. These verses are reminiscent of Paul's teachings in 1Corinthians and he chooses many of the same descriptive phrases for the false teachers as he does in the Corinthian Letters. He states that this conceit and controversy had "puffed up" the individuals rather than "built up" the church, the corporate Christ. While the false teacher boasted of having superior understanding, Paul contends that they really knew nothing. This arrogance and pride provides a base for harmful vices within the Christian Body of which Paul lists four: envy, dissension (strife), slander (railings) and evil suspicions (surmisings). Envy and dissension would harm the church from within; slander and evil suspicions would affect it from without. Paul states in the first part of verse 5 that these men were bereft of the truth and had corrupt minds insinuating that they no longer even had the ability to distinguish right from wrong. In the final words of verse 5 he attacks their true motive: financial gain.

    All religions have had those who sought to make piety a means to financial gains. Christianity is no exception to this. In Acts 8:18-24 we see the example of Simon the Sorcerer thinking that it was through financial bribes that he could attain the favor of God. We can safely speculate that Simon felt that if he could pay Peter and John for endowment of the Holy Spirit, others would in turn pay him for the same. Profiteers under the guise of evangelists have been with us since the earliest days of the church and continue to be with us even now.

    In order that he not be misrepresented on his views of religion and piety, Paul qualifies his attack on piety for profit by stating the "godly" purpose of such. Religion and piety, he states, is of "great gain" when pursued with "contentment." Contentment was a cornerstone of the doctrine of the Greek Stoics. They sought to be content with their lot and control their passions. Paul, however, had a much deeper view of contentment. Such a feeling of contentment arose not from within the individuals own efforts but from confidence in the Risen Christ and a trust in His Providence. It was through this attitude that God would equip the believer to deal with any circumstance. Philippians 4:11-13

    Verses 7-10 provide us with a further commentary on contentment. Verse 7 is likely a quote of a common adage of the time and is reflected in modern sayings such as "you can't take it with you. The call for contentment with food and clothing in verse 8 reflect Christ's teachings in Matthew concerning the lilies and the birds and warn against reckless pursuit of material goods. Such a pursuit is called evil by Paul and it lends one to the snares and destruction of satan. Verse 10 is often misquoted making money the subject. Money in and of itself is not the root of all kinds of evil, rather, it is the love of such, the coveting, that leads to destruction. This is what had happened to the errorists in Ephesus. Their craving for money had caused them to stray from the faith.
     
  7. Clint Kritzer

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    Sunday School lesson – 12/26/04

    Luke 16

    The 16th chapter of Luke focuses primarily on the use of worldly wealth. The composition is of two stories, perhaps Parables, sandwiching a collection of sayings of Jesus. The character of the two stories is interesting and somewhat unique in the Gospels.

    Luke 16:1-9 The Shrewd Steward

    While many view this Passage as a Parable, it is noteworthy that if that is so, the main character is one of unsavory character. Despite his lack of moral scruples, Jesus holds him up as an example and his employer also notes his actions with praise. Because of these points, some surmise that this Passage was a story circulating among the land during the time of Christ. In either case we see that there is a lesson to be learned in life even from a rascal such as the Shrewd Steward.

    Verse 1 tells us that this story is addressed towards the disciples, perhaps the Twelve but not necessarily limited to that group. Even so, the Pharisees at whom the Parables of chapter 15 were directed are still in the background and serve as the foils of the teachings.

    The primary character of the story is the shrewd steward. A steward or administrator was one who was entrusted with the care and management of property. Often in New Testament times a slave filled this office. In this instance, however, this business manager was a free man. He had a very large responsibility of overseeing his employer’s business affairs. This situation parallels the situation in which every person finds himself or herself: whatever we seemingly own has been entrusted to us by God who created it and to whom we are accountable for its use.

    Since there was no yearly audit of books or similar procedure in this time, knowledge of mismanagement often came to a property owner through the form of charges or accusations by a third party. As the story reads, there is no doubt of the man’s guilt. He never offers any excuses or defense and the owner takes it as truth. The command to “give an account” or “turn in the account” in verse 2 is likely an order to relinquish the records of the property a prelude to the stewards dismissal.

    Faced with the prospect of unemployment, the steward seeks to provide for his future with the resources still at his disposal. The steward reasons with himself that he is unable to do manual labor and he is too proud to beg. He must therefore make some arrangements to provide for himself or he will starve. Therefore, he chooses a course of action that will place his employer’s debtors under obligation to him. These debtors may have been tenants who paid for the use of land with a share of product harvested from it. It is also possible that the debtors were merchants who had received merchandise and had not yet settled accounts.

    These debts were actually quite large. A “measure” of oil was between eight and nine gallons. Therefore, a hundred measures would have been eight to nine hundred gallons of olive oil and a reduction of fifty percent would have been a sizable portion of money. A measure of wheat was ten to twelve bushels and the reduction of 20 percent would amount to approximately two hundred twenty bushels forgiven. Of course the most remarkable aspect of the reduction of debts in this story is that the manager is doing so with what really belonged to the owner, not himself!

    Verse 8 then is the surprising twist in the story. The owner (lord) actually commends the rascal for his foresight. Commentators are split on the proper interpretation of this sentence. Some feel that the lord mentioned is Christ, however, the use of the term “unjust” and the switch to first person in verse 9 makes this less likely than the term “lord” referring to the earthly owner who had been bilked out of his money. The commendation made is likely not towards the Shrewd Steward but about him. For instance, should I make the statement, “The Nazis had an amazingly efficient governmental infrastructure,” that should not be interpreted as meaning that I support the actions of fascist groups. It merely means that their efficiency was of a high quality. That in no way diminishes the heinous nature of their philosophy nor my distaste for them. In the same way, the owner must have been the type of fellow who could appreciate such a trick pulled off by the unscrupulous steward even at his own expense.

    Further, Jesus refers to the steward as “dishonest” indicating his disapproval of the man’s actions. The comment in 8b makes the point at which Jesus was driving. Given the nature of his values, needs and possibilities, the steward acted wisely. His actions in the present were based on his possibilities for the future. The steward’s view of the future was limited because he was a “child of the world.” He acted in accord with the superficial values afforded him by the world. Even so, he acted with an eye to the future preparing for the inevitable crisis in his future.

    The “children of light” on the other hand are the stewards of God’s Kingdom and will one day be called upon to give an account. With our own impending crisis, Jesus here tells us that we are to act as prudently as the shrewd manager does when managing the affairs of our Father. The “unrighteous mammon” spoken of in verse 9 is worldly wealth that will one day fail, be it due to poverty or death. Money, in and of itself, is amoral; it is neither good nor evil. It is the use of that money that assigns its unrighteous designation. We are admonished to use what wealth we have to aid those whom Christ came to liberate, the poor, the sick, and the captive.
     
  8. Clint Kritzer

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