Sharables Lesson 9 – Devotion 3

Sharables Lesson 9 – Shrewd
Dr. Randy T. Johnson | Growth Pastor

Luke 16:1-9 gives the parable of the Unjust Steward.  The story goes that a manager was caught wasting the owner’s possessions.  He does not want to be thrown out onto the streets to beg, so he has a plan.  He goes to everyone who owes the owner money and agrees to a 50% discount if they pay right now.  It works, and he is able to turn in a lot of money to the owner and save face.  The owner was pleased.  Verse 8 says, “The master commended the dishonest manager for his shrewdness. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light.”

Jesus gives the explanation in verses 10-13, “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.  If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches?  And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own?  No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”

The manager was considered “shrewd.”  Google gives the definition, “Having or showing sharp powers of judgment; astute.”  It goes on to give an excellent list of synonyms:  sharp-witted, sharp, smart, acute, intelligent, clever, canny, perceptive, perspicacious, sagacious, and wise.

The definition brings no negative connotation on being shrewd.  In the back of my mind, I had a slight feeling of it being negative because Jesus said, “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16 NASB).  Maybe I associate shrewd with serpents and serpents with Satan.  But being shrewd is commendable.  If we strive to be shrewd with money, how much more should we be with the souls of others?  We read books, talk to friends, and even hire a professional in handling our money.  How can we be shrewder in reaching others?

Who has God placed in your heart and mind?

What is your plan?

Be shrewd!

Sharables Lesson 9 – Devotion 2

Sharables Lesson 9 – Comfort
Dr. Randy T. Johnson | Growth Pastor

People often say that becoming a Christian would be so much easier in the first century and that it would be easier to live consistently as a Christian in the first century.  Seeing Jesus and being right with Him would cast all doubt.  However, this is not accurate.  Jesus limited His Deity so that He chose to only be in one place at a time.  When He left, He sent the Holy Spirit to be with believers at all times.  We receive comfort with Him indwelling us.  Jesus’ leaving was to our advantage.

John16:7 says, “Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.”  It sounds out of place to hear Jesus saying that it is for our good that He went away.  After He had left the earth, He sent the Holy Spirit back to His followers.

Matthew 20:1-16 records the parable of the master who hires workers for his vineyard at different times throughout the day, but ends up giving them the same pay.  The earliest group to get hired felt he was unjust, but they miss that actually, he was showing grace.  They also experienced his grace as they did not have a job and he hired them.

Let’s revisit the question, “Why not have fun now and get saved later?”

After Jesus had left the earth, He sent the Holy Spirit back to His followers.

Salvation brings comfort.  John 14:16-17 reads, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.”  Jesus gave us a Helper (Counselor, Comforter) to be with us all the time.  We often go through times when we need comfort.  So, Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit.

God comforts us in all our troubles.  2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”  God comforts His children.  He is the loving Father.

I often hear people at funerals say, “I do not know how people without God get through this.”  Salvation brings hope, promises, and comfort.

Sharables Lesson 9 – Devotion 1

Sharables Lesson 9 – Cake, Icing, and God
Dr. Randy T. Johnson | Growth Pastor

I think John 3:16 is the cake, and John 10:10 is the icing.  I will explain in a moment.

Matthew 20:1-16 contains the parable of a master who hires laborers to work in his vineyard.  The first group is hired early in the morning and agreed on a denarius for a day’s work. He also hired workers in the third hour, sixth hour, ninth hour, and even extremely late in the day at the eleventh hour.  Everyone else was just happy to get work and did not negotiate a fee.  Each person worked until the end of the day when it was time to get paid.  He first paid those who started latest and gave them a denarius.  He did this with the next three groups.  When he came to the first group he hired, he gave them also a denarius.  They were disappointed and expected more, but the agreement was for a denarius.

The same is true spiritually.  Those who live a selfish, evil life, but accept Christ as Savior late in life receives the same benefit as those who accepted Christ at a young age and lived a faithful life.  Both get Heaven.

The natural question is, “Why not have fun now and get saved later?”

I think John 3:16 is the cake, and John 10:10 is the icing.  John 3:16 is the most famous verse in the Bible, and it reads, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”  The foundation of Christianity is solid on the promise of salvation through Jesus Christ.  Our sin broke our relationship with God.  He offers reconciliation through His Son’s death.  This reconciliation brings eternal life.  John 10:10 gives the bonus of daily blessings, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”  Not only do we get eternal life and Heaven, but we are also offered life to the full.  Jesus offers us abundant life.

Many of you probably answered that you should get saved today because no one is promised tomorrow (on earth).  You are right, but also realize that salvation brings life to the full.  We have value, purpose, and meaning in life.

Giving our life to Jesus brings salvation.  Salvation brings God.  God Himself (the Holy Spirit) dwells within us.  This world does not have anything to offer that even comes close to that.  It is a treat to put your trust in Jesus as young as one can. 

“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!” (Psalm 34:8).

Cake?  Icing?  God?

Sharables Lesson 8 – Devotion 6

Sharables Lesson 8 – Test into Testimony
Dr. Randy T. Johnson | Growth Pastor

“And he cried to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a log, and he threw it into the water, and the water became sweet.  There the Lord made for them a statute and a rule, and there he tested them, saying, ‘If you will diligently listen to the voice of the Lord your God, and do that which is right in his eyes, and give ear to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you that I put on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, your healer.’”  Exodus 15:25-26

“The Lord, your healer” is Jehovah-Rapha.  He is The Lord Who Heals.  His specialty lies in the areas of spiritual, physical, and emotional.  He makes us whole.

It must have been amazing to grab a log and throw it in the water.  The water did not become okay; it became sweet.  Bitter water became sweet.  It would be great to bottle sweet water.  Would it still have zero calories?  It is important to notice the steps of faith Moses had to take.  First, he had to be willing to throw a log in the water.  I guess it was large enough that he needed to convince others to help him.  Second, he has to drink potentially bitter water.  He lived by faith and God acted.

In Psalm 103:3 God is the One “who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases.”  Psalm 147:3 continues the thought, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”  He is the Lord, the Healer.

1 Peter 2:24 gives the ultimate healing, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” We are born with a seemingly incurable disease called sin.  Nothing on earth can even slow it down.  It is a death sentence, and if that is not bad enough, it carries over into the afterlife.  God comes down from Heaven.  He does not give a cure; He is the cure.  However, He must die for us to live.  He is the Lord, the Healer.

He turns our Pain into a Plan.

Sharables Lesson 8 – Devotion 5

Sharables Lesson 8 – Hack into Hope
Dr. Randy T. Johnson | Growth Pastor

I like acronyms.  Payne Stewart was a Christian golfer who encouraged the bracelet that had G.O.L.F. on it.  It meant God Offers Love and Forgiveness.  He used it as a witnessing tool.  His lifestyle and message were consistent, so this bracelet caught on in the golf world.

1 Timothy 1:1 gives a beautiful title for Jesus, “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope.” Jesus is our Hope.  He is Hope.  He is our strength and confidence as we have Hope.  We do not know what the future holds, but we know Who hold the future.  He is Hope.

Philippians 4:13 focuses on Jesus, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”  I will not quit.  I will press on confident that He brings hope.  People need hope.

God has the future secure.  We do not need to panic or fear.  It is not always good for my blood pressure to watch a Michigan and Michigan State football game.  However, if I DVR it and watch it after I know the results, it is fine.  God loves us and holds the future.  He is our Hope.

In Colossians 1:27 Jesus is called the Hope of Glory, “To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”  I know as a follower of Christ that I am going to Heaven when I die because He is the Hope of Glory.

I searched the web to find acronyms for Hope.  One of the first ones I found everywhere was Hackers On Planet Earth.  I thought it was funny.  However, I found four other ones that touch the topic.  Hope is to Have Only Positive Expectations.  We can be positive because of who He is.  Another one is Hold On, Pain Ends.  I liked this one because we will go through difficulties, but we still can hold on.  God gives us strength, purpose, and hope.  John Maxwell uses an acronym of Hope that is very similar in encouraging people through Holding On, Praying Expectantly.  Hope should affect our prayer life.

Finally, Hope means He Offers Peace Eternally.  Jesus offers hope.  He is Hope.  If you do not know Him personally, today is the day to give your life to Him.  If you already follow Him, remember the world needs Hope.

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