FOOTSTEPS TO FOLLOW
In Luke 16, we are told about a person who managed funds for a rich man. In the process of managing the funds, he squandered the money entrusted to him. The rich man found out about it and made his manager account for the funds. The manager knew he was wrong and was going to lose his job. He knew that being older if he lost the job, he would not be able to do the kind of work he did when he was younger. He also knew that, at his age, jobs will be harder to find. Many of us know and understand what that is all about.
Therefore, he decided to make sure he was going to have a nest egg to live on. He called in his employer’s debtors and made deals with them. We are told what happened in two of the deals. The manager called in one debtor who owed his employer 100 jugs of olive oil. He told the debtor to change his bill to reflect that he only owed 50. The manager told another debtor who owed his employer 100 containers of wheat to change the bill reflecting that he only owed him for 80. We know that at least two of the debtors were willing to accept his terms. The manager knew which debtors were dishonest and would accept the terms he offered. After all, if he asked the wrong person, word would get back to his employer, who could make things even worse than what the manager already was facing.
We don’t know what the exact terms were; we do know that the manager and the debtors made out on the deal. Jesus praised the manager for his shrewdness.
Jesus did not praise the manager for doing the right thing. Jesus praised him because he came up with a dishonest plan and got away with it. I can assure you that he will pay for his crime in this life or in the next.
When a person goes to hell, there is no pardon, no parole for good behavior and no loop holes. This man will pay the price for what he did and so will his dishonest friends.
Some people have this weird idea that it is OK to do anything we want. The only time it is not OK is when they get caught. It is not a question of whether we get caught or not; it is a question as to what is right and wrong.
Jesus pointed out that when one is dishonest and makes deals with dishonest people, sooner or later there will be a time of reckoning. Unless they repent, they will not enter the kingdom of heaven.
Many people look at such a situation as being good business. After all, the manager put in his time and was owed more then what he was going to get. So he had a right to it. It is only fair!
How many times do we hear of people, who I believe had good intentions, arrested for embezzling funds from the public or voluntary organizations. I don’t think that most of them took the job they did because they wanted to steal or rob their employer. Sometimes temptation gets the better of us. Just remember that Jesus, if not someone else, always knows what we have done.
– Behrens is the administrative pastor of Picture Rocks United Methodist Charge and Protestant chaplain at Muncy State Correctional Institution.
FOOTSTEPS TO FOLLOW
Prayer is the key and the foundation for all we do. Without it nothing is accomplished for the Kingdom of God!
“To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.” Well said, Martin Luther!
Many are being caught up with the “cares of this world,” and sometimes things can seem to choke the Word (and may I add the prayer?) right out of us! God desires to wash us with His Word and re-fire us to go and do “the work of the ministry” everywhere. Each one of us has a part to play, and the Lord desires that we be fully prepared. We must first go to the Lord in prayer, to acknowledge God in all things: and He will surely guide our steps (Prov. 3:5-6). If we do not acknowledge the Lord in prayer, then as verse 7 says, we are being wise in our own eyes.
Have you ever witnessed or said to yourselves in a situation that needed an answer, “Well, all I can do is pray?” as though that was the last resort or somehow inferior to anything else? Instead, we need to believe and be in high expectation: “I can pray and that’s a lot!” We should be a people that live in prayer and not just do prayer. Pray without ceasing (I Thess. 5:17 and also Luke18:1). Men ought always to pray and not to give up! That’s right. Continue earnestly in prayer and be steadfast, Beloved, knowing that the effective fervent prayers of the righteous make a big difference! If Jesus Himself prayed to the Father and did nothing without the leading of His Father, how could we not follow His lead? If Jesus needed to spend time in His Father’s presence and worship Him and pray and communicate with His Father, how could we bypass this? This is indeed a lifestyle for us and not a once in a while occurrence. It is in all of its simplicity, relationship and communication with our Lord. We must align our will with the will of the Father. When we are properly aligned with His will, situations change!
As we have the privilege of being in this wonderful community, then we must be good stewards of it. Prayer is a key that will unlock the doors that are needed and provide the answers we are seeking. Once we have prayed, then it is time to move. Once we have received direction, then we can carry out what is needed. No guessing games … but clear and concise direction.
Yes, we can talk about prayer, we can read about prayer and we can write about prayer, but, beloved, we must get down to the Lord’s business of actually praying!
Let’s see and be a part of the change that is needed in our individual lives, the lives of others and our community and world. I can pray, and that’s a lot!
– Whaley is a member of Citychurch and the northcentral regional director of Yokefellowship Prison Ministry.
FOOTSTEPS TO FOLLOW
It is my opinion that the Christian church has lost relevance because it has ceased to be the church of God; it has become an apostate church. Under constant attack from the forces of evil – secularism, humanism, socialism, paganism, polytheism, hedonism, and all forms of antichristian isms or entities – churches have declined. In an effort to recover their losses, they have appealed to secularized (un-churched/non-religious) people by abandoning the true biblical teachings of Christianity for a soft-sell approach (Christianity Lite).
These churches have adopted progressive theologies and opted for a wide array of worship styles and genres embracing non-Christian, even pagan, liturgics; stretching inclusivity to the extent of “anything goes.” In reality, they are expounding nothing less than idolatry that replaces God with His creation. They have shifted focus away from God to people and things – good deeds, agendas, agencies, movements, plants, animals, the earth, political parties, etc. – worshiping the creation, not the Creator.
In addition, progressive churches have denied sin and replaced the need for repentance with doing good works. As a result, the church has morphed into a faith-based social service agency. In the minds of secular society and even of some Christians, the church’s social ministries are nothing more than extensions of secular/government programs.
These churches have continued to move farther and farther away from traditional Christian orthodoxy, watering down beliefs and teachings to achieve greater mass appeal and to be less offensive to unbelievers. As a result, churches are not much different from secular institutions, and religion is not worth being a part of when pews are empty, buildings are being closed, and being a Christian means being marginalized and labeled as a bigot and fanatic.
Additionally, these churches also have embraced universalism, that all are saved regardless of faith in Christ Jesus, that there are many paths to God and Christianity is but one path. If this were the case, Christ Jesus’ birth, life, ministry, suffering, death and resurrection would all have been in vain, for naught, useless, unnecessary; that Christianity is but one of many options from which to choose. So why be a Christian?
Jesus said,” I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). If the church denies or rejects Christ, He will deny the church. In essence, Jesus inferred this when He said, “So everyone who acknowledges Me before men, I also will acknowledge before My Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies Me before men, I also will deny before My Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 10:23-33).
These churches are irrelevant and dying today because they are in apostasy. They no longer endure sound teaching; and having itching ears, they have accumulated teachers to suit their own passions, turned away from listening to the truth, and wandered off into myths. Having become secularized, they have turned away from God and are now reaping the fruits of their deeds. However, not all hope is lost; God always redeems a faithful remnant. That is His promise.
– Letscher is the pastor at Bethany Evangelical Lutheran Church in Montoursville.