Flashback Episode — Praising Dishonesty: Luke 16:1-18


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Of all the parables and illustrations Jesus shares in the gospels, one stands out above the rest when I think about those that are overly negative. On one hand, many of Jesus’ parables are meant to challenge individuals to live more Godly lives, but what if the parable Jesus shares appears to endorse or support some pretty negative and dishonest characteristics?

For those of you listeners who are familiar with Jesus’ parables in the Bible, you may have guessed that I am describing the Parable of the Dishonest Manager, and this is a parable that bothered me a little until I read it with an analytical frame of mind – looking specifically for why Jesus might have shared it.

Let’s read the parable together and discover why Jesus may have shared it. This parable is found in Luke’s gospel, chapter 16, and we will be reading from the New Century Version. Starting in verse 1, Luke begins by saying that:

Jesus also said to his followers, “Once there was a rich man who had a manager to take care of his business. This manager was accused of cheating him. So he called the manager in and said to him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give me a report of what you have done with my money, because you can’t be my manager any longer.’ The manager thought to himself, ‘What will I do since my master is taking my job away from me? I am not strong enough to dig ditches, and I am ashamed to beg. I know what I’ll do so that when I lose my job people will welcome me into their homes.’

“So the manager called in everyone who owed the master any money. He asked the first one, ‘How much do you owe?’ He answered, ‘Eight hundred gallons of olive oil.’ The manager said to him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and write four hundred gallons.’ Then the manager asked another one, ‘How much do you owe?’ He answered, ‘One thousand bushels of wheat.’ Then the manager said to him, ‘Take your bill and write eight hundred bushels.’ So, the master praised the dishonest manager for being clever. Yes, worldly people are more clever with their own kind than spiritual people are.

Let’s pause reading for a moment because it is here at the conclusion of this parable that we get a hint about why Jesus told us this parable. Along with describing how the master praised the dishonest manager, Jesus tells His followers that “worldly people are more clever with their own kind than spiritual people are”.

But while we might be tempted to stop here and think Jesus simply wants us to be cleaver and sneaky for God, He continues by telling us exactly why He shared this parable, and the lesson we should learn from it. In verse 9, Luke tells us that Jesus continued by saying:

“I tell you, make friends for yourselves using worldly riches so that when those riches are gone, you will be welcomed in those homes that continue forever. 10 Whoever can be trusted with a little can also be trusted with a lot, and whoever is dishonest with a little is dishonest with a lot. 11 If you cannot be trusted with worldly riches, then who will trust you with true riches? 12 And if you cannot be trusted with things that belong to someone else, who will give you things of your own?

Pausing our reading again, it is important for us to realize that Jesus does not praise the dishonest manager, and nothing implied in what Jesus described would indicate that this manager was able to keep his job.

Jesus actually describes the opposite when He says in verse 10 that “Whoever can be trusted with a little can also be trusted with a lot, and whoever is dishonest with a little is dishonest with a lot”.

In this parable and explanation, Jesus tells us that we are responsible for how we manage our lives and wealth on this earth. It is like Jesus is describing God looking down from heaven at those living on the earth, and He is specifically looking for people who are managing their lives, their money, and their gifts well and He chooses to give these people more of these blessings.

And before moving too far ahead, Jesus gives us instruction and guidance for how to use our earthly wealth in the best possible way. He tells us that the best use for it is to use it to make friends. However, before thinking Jesus is telling us to buy friendships, which is ironically impossible to do, Jesus describes a situation where the wealth is temporary, but the relationship lasts beyond it. The only way for this to happen is if the relationships and friendships we grow are not dependant on money.

What is the goal of these friendships? Jesus continues by stating something that might sound completely off topic, but His words actually contain the answer to this question.

Picking back up in verse 13, Jesus continues by saying:

13 “No servant can serve two masters. The servant will hate one master and love the other, or will follow one master and refuse to follow the other. You cannot serve both God and worldly riches.”

In this simple two-statement illustration, Jesus subtly sums up two big conflicting motivators for people. Some people are motivated by serving God; other people are motivated by money. This list is nowhere near mutually exclusive, because we all face other things that can motivate or demotivate us, but God and money happen to be two of the biggest motivators. Looking a little deeper at the motivation for serving God, it is true that we cannot be serving money at the same time.

How does this relate to our friendships, you might ask?

When our lives are serving God, we use our earthly money to help support and enrich friendships with others here on earth with the goal of being able to share Jesus and God with them. Money makes a great tool to help with relationships in many cases, but it makes a horrible foundation for a relationship to be built on. Jesus describes money being used as a tool and nothing more, whereas our Master and focus is on God.

We are not given license to use our money in dishonest ways, but instead to be creative with it while holding ourselves to the highest standards of integrity. Whoever is dishonest with a little will be dishonest with much, while whoever can be trusted with a little will be given more.

While Jesus does continue speaking and sharing, this seems like a good place to conclude, and with that said, here are the challenges I want to leave you with this week:

Continue seeking God first and placing Him first in your life. Learn to see money as a tool and know that if you have money in your life, it is only through using it wisely that you will be blessed with more.

Remember Jesus’ words in verse 11: “If you cannot be trusted with worldly riches, then who will trust you with true riches?” Use this as a guide to challenge yourself to live more trustworthy, with the highest standards of integrity and honesty that you can think of, because while this is a challenge Jesus shares, it is also a promise we can claim in our own lives.

Also, be sure to study the Bible for yourself. The Bible has a lot to say about money, and one reason for this might be because God knows that money is a sensitive topic for many people. God loves you more than He loves your money and He values your heart and soul more than your net worth. With regular prayer and Bible study, we can grow a personal relationship with Him.

And as I end every set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never sell yourself short, back away from, or chicken out of where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Flashback Episode: Season 3 – Episode 31: Cam looks briefly at the Parable of the Dishonest Manager and he discusses several reasons why Jesus may have shared this parable with His followers.

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Receiving Peace and Victory: John 16:16-33


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Over the past several episodes, we have been focusing in on Jesus’ last opportunity to share with the disciples before being betrayed and arrested. At this point, Judas Iscariot has likely already gathered the mob and soldiers who would arrest Jesus, and there isn’t much time left for Jesus and the remaining disciples to be together.

As Jesus begins to wrap up what He wants to share with His remaining followers, we come to our passage for this episode. This passage is found in John’s gospel, chapter 16, and we will be reading it from the New International Version of the Bible. Starting in verse 16:

16 Jesus went on to say, “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me.”

17 At this, some of his disciples said to one another, “What does he mean by saying, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me,’ and ‘Because I am going to the Father’?” 18 They kept asking, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We don’t understand what he is saying.”

19 Jesus saw that they wanted to ask him about this, so he said to them, “Are you asking one another what I meant when I said, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me’? 20 Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. 21 A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. 22 So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. 23 In that day you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 24 Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.

25 “Though I have been speaking figuratively, a time is coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly about my Father. 26 In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf. 27 No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. 28 I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.”

29 Then Jesus’ disciples said, “Now you are speaking clearly and without figures of speech. 30 Now we can see that you know all things and that you do not even need to have anyone ask you questions. This makes us believe that you came from God.”

31 “Do you now believe?” Jesus replied. 32 “A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.

33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

In this conclusion to Jesus’ message to His disciples, we see an interesting miscommunication. Jesus shares that while He has been speaking figuratively, He points forward to a time when He won’t have to use figurative language.

In response, the disciples exclaim that they are happy now that He is speaking clearly and without figures of speech. This response to Jesus is followed up with a statement they likely unanimously make that they now all believe He came from God.

Jesus then responds by challenging them on this very point. If they truly all believed and knew what would happen, then they would not have been surprised or scared when the mob arrived to arrest Jesus. And even if they were surprised, they wouldn’t have abandoned Him.

However, in Jesus’ challenge to His disciples, we see a massive idea within His words that is a promise we can take and apply into our own lives. Verse 32 tells us that Jesus told the disciples: “You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.

This truth is incredibly powerful. Regardless of what our circumstances look like, how we feel, or what Satan tries to tell us to discourage us, when we believe in Jesus, we are never alone. God the Father, and His Holy Spirit are always with us. Even if everyone else has abandoned us, God is still faithful, and His presence matters more than the presence of anyone else.

The reverse is also true. Even when we feel like we have failed God and left Him all alone, He is willing to accept us back when we are ready to come back. All the disciples failed Jesus, and Jesus was willing to accept back all the disciples who were willing to come back. The only disciple who didn’t return was Judas Iscariot, who committed suicide when realizing that He was responsible for Jesus’ death, and his decision could not be undone.

As Jesus wraps up this last message to His followers, He gives all of us a promise. Verse 33 shares this promise, which says: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

When we follow Jesus, He does not promise us a life that is trouble free. Our lives might include more trouble because of our decision to follow Him. However, we are to live each day with the peace God gives us, and this peace is built on the truth that Jesus overcame the world. Jesus overcame sin. Jesus overcame death. Jesus promises to include us in His victory when He returns as King!

This promise is one worth celebrating, especially when we look at how sin-filled the world is today!

As we come to the end of another podcast episode, here are the challenges I will leave you with:

Always seek God first and let His Holy Spirit influence your life. Trust that God knows the future; that He knows what will happen; and that through Jesus, He defeated Satan and overcame the world. Let God’s peace guide you through life and draw you to Him.

Also, always be sure to pray and study the Bible for yourself to grow your personal relationship with God. A personal relationship with God is the best way to experience the peace He offers, and it is the best way to experience Jesus’ victory in your own life while sin is still present in this world.

And as I end every set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short of, chicken out of, or drift away from where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Year of the Cross – Episode 31: In the last part of His message to the disciples on the night He was betrayed, Jesus talks about receiving His peace because He overcame the world. Discover why this is important to us living 2,000 years later.

Join the discussion. Share your thoughts on this passage.

Flashback Episode — Humility, Honor, Love, and an Invitation: Luke 14:7-24


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While reading the gospels, and while seeing how Jesus interacted with various people in many unique circumstances, I am amazed that Jesus is able to deal with each situation uniquely. Perhaps this is simply because the unique events are the ones that are remembered in a sea of regular, or unspectacular, healings. Perhaps it is also true that Jesus reused many of His illustrations and parables, but instead of simply reusing them word-for-word, He would adapt them to the groups He was speaking to.

I am also amazed that Jesus taught directly to what He saw going on around Him, whether it was because He was that observant, or because the Holy Spirit shared the thoughts of the crowd or the thoughts of certain people in the crowd with Him.

With all this in mind, we may be tempted to discount something Jesus says because it appears that it was only for one person in one specific instance. While I won’t speak for every case that the gospels include, there may be some such statements, but even statements that are for specific people in specific circumstances carry a theme, and that theme is something we can use when thinking about what Jesus might say to someone living today.

Our passage for this episode contains one example of a statement and illustration that we might be tempted to think was only for a specific person or group, but it also contains a powerful theme that is timeless. Let’s read what happens from the gospel of Luke, chapter 14, using the God’s Word to the Nations Bible translation. Starting in verse 7, Luke tells us:

7 Then Jesus noticed how the guests always chose the places of honor. So he used this illustration when he spoke to them: 8 “When someone invites you to a wedding, don’t take the place of honor. Maybe someone more important than you was invited. 9 Then your host would say to you, ‘Give this person your place.’ Embarrassed, you would have to take the place of least honor. 10 So when you’re invited, take the place of least honor. Then, when your host comes, he will tell you, ‘Friend, move to a more honorable place.’ Then all the other guests will see how you are honored. 11 Those who honor themselves will be humbled, but people who humble themselves will be honored.”

Let’s pause briefly here because Jesus just spoke into a specific situation, but then He directly shared a big picture principle: “Those who honor themselves will be humbled, but people who humble themselves will be honored.

Continuing reading in verse 12, Luke goes on to say:

12 Then he told the man who had invited him, “When you invite people for lunch or dinner, don’t invite only your friends, family, other relatives, or rich neighbors. Otherwise, they will return the favor. 13 Instead, when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the handicapped, the lame, and the blind. 14 Then you will be blessed because they don’t have any way to pay you back. You will be paid back when those who have God’s approval come back to life.”

There are several things I could bring out from this response Jesus gives, but I will hold back and simply say that while this statement sounds like a specific instruction for a specific person, it also contains a theme that is much more timeless. The clue to seeing evidence of a theme here is that Jesus pushes the focus forward onto the resurrection of God’s people.

This means that Jesus could speak something similar to almost anyone living at any point prior to the resurrection of God’s people, because the theme in Jesus’ statement would be just as applicable. The powerful theme I see included here is that we are to show grace, kindness, and love towards those who cannot repay us back. While we shouldn’t neglect our friends, family, or other relatives, we should be extra intentional about including those who might not be able to pay us back or return the favor.

Jesus implies here that we will be paid back for our kindness at some point in the future. Our kindness will be repaid either in this life, by the people we chose to help, or in the next life by God who saw this kindness and is happy to repay it with kindness + interest.

Luke then tells us in verse 15 that:

15 One of those eating with him heard this. So he said to Jesus, “The person who will be at the banquet in God’s kingdom is blessed.”

16 Jesus said to him, “A man gave a large banquet and invited many people. 17 When it was time for the banquet, he sent his servant to tell those who were invited, ‘Come! Everything is ready now.’

18 “Everyone asked to be excused. The first said to him, ‘I bought a field, and I need to see it. Please excuse me.’ 19 Another said, ‘I bought five pairs of oxen, and I’m on my way to see how well they plow. Please excuse me.’ 20 Still another said, ‘I recently got married, and that’s why I can’t come.’

21 “The servant went back to report this to his master. Then the master of the house became angry. He told his servant, ‘Run to every street and alley in the city! Bring back the poor, the handicapped, the blind, and the lame.’

22 “The servant said, ‘Sir, what you’ve ordered has been done. But there is still room for more people.’

23 “Then the master told his servant, ‘Go to the roads and paths! Urge the people to come to my house. I want it to be full. 24 I can guarantee that none of those invited earlier will taste any food at my banquet.’”

What is amazing to me most about this parable is the statement that prompts it, especially when you contrast it with what happens in the parable itself.

Someone sitting near Jesus makes a general statement that those who are included in the banquet in God’s kingdom are really blessed. It is worth noting that Jesus does not deny the man’s statement. Instead, He draws our attention onto a sobering reality that those who are God’s first choice to be included seem to value their invitation the least. The parable ends with the man, who represents God the Father, filling the banquet hall to be so full with people that those who had rejected the invitation wouldn’t even be able to fit if they decided later to come – or at the very least, there would be no food left for them.

This illustration comes directly as a response to talking about the banquet in God’s kingdom, so it is not difficult to conclude that the banquet in Jesus’ illustration refers to the banquet in God’s kingdom. What is the most challenging theme for us – or at least for me – to wrap my head around is the idea of someone rejecting this sort of invitation. Was Jesus talking about those in the Jewish nation rejecting the invitation, while Christians are safe because they were “invited” second? Or is this illustration less about nationality and more about the state of our hearts and us choosing to put everything else aside when God calls us home to Him?

I am inclined to believe more along the lines of the second idea, because I can see people living today, even people who call themselves Christians, who seem to have taken their relationship with God for granted. These “convenience Christians” believe in a once saved, then-you-can-never-be-lost-no-matter-what-you-do-or-decide form of being saved, and they are almost indistinguishable from someone who truly doesn’t know God. I picture these people as taking their relationship with God for granted, and taking one’s relationship with God for granted is how someone guarantees that they will miss out on God’s banquet feast.

As we come to the close of another podcast episode, let me leave you with a set of challenges related to this key idea:

Intentionally value your relationship with God today. While I am positive your relationship with Him will be 100 times better in heaven, this shouldn’t be an excuse for us to neglect God today. If we ignore or neglect Him today, we might miss the point when He invites us to His banquet thinking that we still have time left. Instead, take each day and value the time that you spend in prayer and study with Him. This way, you will be in tune with what He is up to in the world around you.

Speaking of taking time each day to spend in prayer and study, be sure to study the Bible for yourself so you can learn firsthand from God’s Word and the Holy Spirit. While commentaries, pastors, or even the occasional podcaster can prompt ideas, nothing and no one can replace the value of personal, regular time in prayer and Bible study. If you depend on others, you can only learn as much as they have learned – which may be less than what God really wants to teach you.

And as I always end each set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short, back away from, or neglect the mission and place God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Flashback Episode: Season 3 – Episode 30: Cam discusses a time Jesus was invited to a banquet and some things Jesus taught during this event.

Join the discussion on the original episode's page: Click Here.

Letting the Spirit Teach: John 16:5-15


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As we continue moving through Jesus’ last big opportunity to share with the disciples on the night of His arrest, we come to Jesus teaching us what the role of the Holy Spirit is, what we can expect the Holy Spirit to do, and why it is better that that Jesus should return to heaven. However, I wonder if much of what Jesus was telling them went over their heads. Either that, or I wonder if they understood a little, but not enough of the details to fully understand the events of that weekend.

Let’s read what Jesus shared with the disciples in this part of His message. Our passage is found in John’s gospel, chapter 16, and we will be reading from the New Century Version. Starting in verse 5, Jesus continues by saying:

Now I am going back to the One who sent me. But none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ Your hearts are filled with sadness because I have told you these things. But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go away. When I go away, I will send the Helper to you. If I do not go away, the Helper will not come. When the Helper comes, he will prove to the people of the world the truth about sin, about being right with God, and about judgment. He will prove to them that sin is not believing in me. 10 He will prove to them that being right with God comes from my going to the Father and not being seen anymore. 11 And the Helper will prove to them that judgment happened when the ruler of this world was judged.

Let’s pause briefly here because Jesus has just shared a number of big things. First off, we can understand that the disciples are sad because Jesus is leaving, but Jesus counters their sadness by telling them that if He doesn’t leave, the Helper, otherwise known as the Holy Spirit, will not come.

On the surface this doesn’t make sense, unless we believe that God isn’t going to be redundant. However, when reading this passage, I believe the reason for Jesus telling us that the Helper would not come unless He leaves is tucked within the role of the Holy Spirit that Jesus then shares.

Jesus describes three roles the Holy Spirit has in addition to being called our Helper. The first is that the Holy Spirit will prove to the people of this world that sin is not believing in Jesus, the second is that being right with God comes from Jesus’ return to Heaven and not being seen any more, and the third is that judgment happened when the ruler of this world was judged.

These are three huge theological concepts and it would take too much time to fully unpack each of them. However, let’s briefly look at each.

The first huge concept is that sin is not believing in Jesus. As we read this just now, I could not escape the idea that the sin being described here is the unpardonable sin. Not that this sin isn’t reversible, but that every other sin gets erased if at the time of our last breath, we believe in Jesus. While Jesus says that those who speak out against Him will be forgiven, while those who speak against the Holy Spirit are not, I wonder if that verse connects with this verse to define what sin is truly unpardonable.

At the moment we die, the only thing that matters is our belief in Jesus, and this one decision determines our fate in the judgment. This is an idea I just had. It’s worth studying further, but I thought I’d share it with you as I had it.

The second huge concept is that being right with God comes from Jesus returning to the Father. While this is a huge theological concept, the simplest way for me to understand this personally is that when Jesus came, He came as a representative for God. Jesus was Heaven’s Ambassador to earth. Jesus came to show us God’s love.

Following His death and resurrection, Jesus’ return to Heaven marks a shift in His role. While before this Jesus was representing Heaven, now that He has returned to Heaven, He is representing us. Before Jesus was an Ambassador; now He is an Advocate. If you are worried about God’s judgment, trust that Jesus is in Heaven right now defending you with His sacrifice. When we have placed our faith, hope, belief, and trust in Jesus, His sacrifice erases our sinful past, and Jesus becomes our defense attorney. Jesus standing before the accuser defending us is an amazing, powerful, and profound concept that the Holy Spirit wants us to remember.

The third huge concept is that “judgment happened when the ruler of this world was judged”. This verse is translated in an interesting way. Other translations describe a future judgment that is solidified at the moment the ruler of this world was judged. When the Holy Spirit came to the disciples, Jesus describes the event in past tense, which means that when Jesus died, Satan was judged guilty. When the curtain in the temple was torn in two, which we will read about later this year, Jesus tells us Satan is judged as guilty.

The big truth for us to remember living today is that judgment happened against Satan, and He is guilty. God is preparing to return and to carry out this judgment. This means that we have a choice to side with Satan, who has already been judged as guilty, or side with Jesus, who became victorious through His death on the cross. Jesus’ victory was sealed with the resurrection.

All three of these huge theological concepts focus on Jesus, what He has done, and what He is currently doing for each of us.

Jesus continues in verse 12 by saying:

12 “I have many more things to say to you, but they are too much for you now. 13 But when the Spirit of truth comes, he will lead you into all truth. He will not speak his own words, but he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is to come. 14 The Spirit of truth will bring glory to me, because he will take what I have to say and tell it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine. That is why I said that the Spirit will take what I have to say and tell it to you.

When the Holy Spirit came, Jesus promised that He would teach Jesus’ followers the truth about Jesus and about the world. These followers were transformed when the Holy Spirit came into their lives. We would not be believers today if it were not for their life-transformation.

But it would be a mistake to think that the same offer Jesus gave His early followers is reserved only for them. The same offer of the Holy Spirit is available for us today. If we are serious about growing towards God, then we should let the Holy Spirit teach us the truth about Jesus. This truth will match what the Bible teaches, this truth will transform our lives, and this truth will lead us into eternity!

As we come to the end of another podcast, here are the challenges I will leave you with:

As always, be sure to seek God first in your life and ask Him to send His Holy Spirit into your life to teach you the truth about Jesus. Let God show you through His Word who Jesus is and why this historical figure who lived 2000 years ago is worth paying attention to today!

In order to learn this and grow, be sure to pray and study the Bible for yourself. Personal prayer and study is the way to grow a personal relationship with God, and the Holy Spirit is more than willing to lead you to the truth about Jesus when you take steps towards God with a desire to learn His truth. Pastors, authors, speakers, and even podcasters can give you ideas to think about, but never let anyone get between you and Jesus.

And as I end every set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short of, back away from, or chicken out of where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Year of the Cross – Episode 30: In this passage, Jesus tells the disciples several roles of the Holy Spirit and what they could expect from His coming. Learn what the Holy Spirit came to accomplish, and what He is willing to accomplish in our lives when we let Him in!

Join the discussion. Share your thoughts on this passage.