Sharables Lesson 8 – Devotion 4

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

Several years ago I was asked to share my testimony at a conference.  I was raised in a great Christian home, accepted Christ at age 7, baptized at age 12, rededicated my life in high school, and went to Bible College.  During college, there was a time when I questioned whether to go after baseball or seminary.  The rest is pretty basic.

The other speaker was Joe Ehrmann.  Joe was an NFL all-star football player.  He said he could always get a restaurant table wherever he wanted, whenever he wanted by reputation, force, or money.  He was famous.  He lived life big until his younger brother was diagnosed with Leukemia.  Joe said he introduced himself to the doctor, so the doctor knew he was important.  He bribed the doctor.  Finally, he threatened the doctor.  Nothing changed the diagnosis.  His brother was going to die, and he could not do anything.  He sat in the hospital hopeless.  A random church group came by and asked if they could come in the room.  They sang and shared the Gospel.  He was 28, and it was the first time he ever heard the Gospel.  He and his brother both gave their lives to Christ.  Not long after, his brother died.  It was a celebration, as they knew he would be in Heaven.

Luke 7:41-43 is a parable that describes the story of two people, “‘A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?’  Simon answered, ‘The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.’ And he said to him, ‘You have judged rightly.’”

Some would see Joe and me in this parable.  However, it takes the same amount of God’s forgiveness for everyone, and everyone should appreciate it the same.  However, those who strayed longer often have a more radical transformation.  It appears they “love him more.”  That should not be the case and it is not always the case, but the illustration makes sense.  We all need to realize how lost we were without Jesus.

After the conference, Joe introduced himself to me.  I mentioned how incredible his testimony was.  He said mine was better.  I was dumbfounded.  He said, “Yours is the one I want for my children.  I do not want them to have all the scars I have experienced.”  My testimony is remarkable.

What is your story?  We all are born with a debt we cannot pay.  Jesus picked up the bill.  It is paid in full.

How will you thank Him today?

Sharables Lesson 8 – Devotion 3

Sharables Lesson 8 – Kissing Feet
Dr. Randy T. Johnson | Growth Pastor

Luke records thirty-five of Jesus’ parables.  Nineteen of these parables are only recorded in the Gospel according to Luke.  The first one only recorded in Luke is about a creditor and two debtors.  Luke 7:41-43 says, “‘A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?’  Simon answered, ‘The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.’ And he said to him, ‘You have judged rightly.’”

The parable seems pretty mild and basic.  However, when you read the context of verse 36-40, we see Jesus is very precise and pointed in His speaking, “One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table.  And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, ‘If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.’ And Jesus answering said to him, ‘Simon, I have something to say to you.’ And he answered, ‘Say it, Teacher.’”

The context totally explains the parable.  Jesus is the forgiving creditor.  Simon, representing all professionally righteous men, is the one who owed 50 denarii.  The woman who was a sinner owed 500 denarii.  Simon focused on being moral; she focused on worshipping the Lord.

Verses 44-46 get even more pointed, “Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, ‘Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment.’”  Simon should be embarrassed now.  It appears he feels it was an honor for Jesus to be at his house, instead of realizing God Himself had entered the building.

Are you more concerned with being moral or worshipping God?

What are some ways you can worship God during the week?

Sharables Lesson 8 – Devotion 2

Sharables Lesson 8 – The Goal
Dr. Randy T. Johnson | Growth Pastor

Merlin Olsen was a pro-football Hall of Fame defensive tackle.  His job was to get to the quarterback, or whoever had the football, and tackle them.  He was known as a very mild mannered man.  After he retired, he even took a part on “Little Hose on the Prairie.”  Then there was Conrad Dobler.  He was known as the dirtiest player in the NFL (Ironically, he played for the “Saints”).  He was an offensive lineman.  His job was to make sure no one got to his quarterback.  He was known for hitting guys in the throat, holding them, kicking, and even biting players.

After Olsen’s team had lost, he complained and criticized Dobler openly on air.  When Dobler was questioned, he smiled and asked how many times Olsen got to his quarterback.  The answer was none.  Dobler said Olsen was so concerned about him that he forgot what his real goal was.

Yesterday, we looked at the immediate context of the parable of The Unforgiving Servant.  However, there is a larger context.  Matthew 18:15-17 gives what is known as the Matthew 18 Principle, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.  But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses.  If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”

The Matthew 18 Principle gives three steps to take when someone wrongs you.  First, go to the person.  If nothing happens, take a witness or two with you.  Finally, if still no change, take it to the church.  Sometimes people get so caught up in the process they forget the goal.  The goal is to bring him back.  It involves forgiveness.  When someone wrongs us, the goal is to forgive and be reunited.

Maybe the Matthew 18 Principle should be known for forgiveness, not church discipline.  The goal is not punishment.  The goal is helping someone get right with Christ.  Keep the goal in mind.

Does someone come to mind as you read this?

Have you talked to them about it?

Are you ready to forgive them?

Sharables Lesson 8 – Devotion 1

Sharables Lesson 8 – Paco
Dr. Randy T. Johnson | Growth Pastor

I enjoy the movie, “Home Alone.”  There are great quotable lines like, “Keep the change you filthy animal.”  I also like the facial expression when Kevin puts on after-shave lotion.  However, my favorite section is when Kevin meets the scary old man from across the street.  They are in church and are starting to bond.  The old man tells Kevin that he comes to church because it is the only way he can see his granddaughter.  He does not even remember what he and his son fought about, but now they do not speak to each other.  The old man wants his family back.  Kevin tells him to try.  I believe it is a beautiful picture of forgiving and being forgiven.

Matthew 18:21-22 gives the immediate context of The Unforgiving Servant, “Then Peter came up and said to him, ‘Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?’  Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.’”  Rabbis taught that you only had to forgive someone three times.  On the fourth time, you did not have to forgive the one who offended you.  Peter was probably trying to impress Jesus.  He says, “Seven times?”  Jesus says, “Wow, I am impressed with you Peter.  You are the man.”  No, Jesus shows His heart when He says, “seventy-seven times.”  We are not to keep track.  We are to forgive because we have been forgiven so much more.

There is a story told about a boy in Spain named Paco who ran away from home.  His father looked for him and counted the days waiting for him to return.  Finally, he put an article in the Madrid newspaper saying something like, “Dear Paco, meet me in front of this newspaper office at noon on Saturday. All is forgiven. Love, Papa.”  On Saturday, 800 Pacos showed up.

I realize Paco is a common Spanish name, but I think the story goes much deeper.  So many people want to be forgiven.  Often both sides have some fault in the situation.  It takes one person to speak up and say, “I am sorry.  Please forgive me.  You are forgiven.”

Life is too short to live in hate and bitterness.  It hurts us.  God speaks as a loving Father when He tells us to forgive.  It is to protect us and provide us from our self-destructive emotions.  Forgiveness washes us.

Is there someone you need to ask to forgive you?

Is there someone you need to forgive?

Sharables Lesson 7 – Devotion 6

Sharables Lesson 7 – The Provider
Dr. Randy T. Johnson | Growth Pastor

There are Bible stories that would have been great to stand off to the side and watch live.  Most would say David against Goliath. The walls of Jericho dropping would have left one awestruck.  Gideon and his “band” of 300 downing 125,000 would have left one speechless.  I would have wanted to witness the selection process and Gideon’s face.  However, one that has drama, humor, and victory is the story of Abraham and Isaac.

Abraham was told to take his son, Isaac, and sacrifice him.  He has his son on the altar showing full faith and obedience when God stops him.  Genesis 22:13-14 picks up the story, “And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called the name of that place, ‘The Lord will provide’; as it is said to this day, ‘On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.’”  Now, I have heard of firemen be called to rescue a cat from a tree, but I have never heard of a ram caught in a thicket.  The timing is incredible.  Abraham and Isaac are getting everything ready, and they do not even notice it, but it is waiting for God’s perfect timing.

A title for God from this passage is Jehovah-Jireh, which means “The Lord Will Provide.”  Abraham realized the ram was from God.  God provided in his deepest time.

Psalm 23:1 conveys the same concept, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”  God will provide.  David watched it as he shepherded his flock.  He knew what it meant to be a shepherd and to provide.

Abraham saw God provide a son when he was 100 years old.  He walked in faith and obedience.  Even when it did not seem to make sense, he was faithful.  He watched God provide again.

Hebrews 11:17-19 shares what Abraham was thinking, “By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, of whom it was said, ‘Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.’ He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.”

He trusted God.  He knew and experienced Jehovah-Jireh.

Where do you need to trust God?  Is it a relationship?  Finances?  Time?

Look around, and you might see a ram in the thicket.  Jehovah-Jireh is seeking to bless those who walk in faith.

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