Parables of Jesus – notes from the DVD

Leave a comment

Here are my notes from the Parables of Jesus DVD. Some were directly transcribed from the narration.

20140217-203250.jpg20140217-203305.jpg

The Good Samaritan – Luke 10

A certain man had to make a journey from Jerusalem to Jericho

  • There was only one way – thru the wilderness.
  • Jericho was the lowest place on earth, deep in the Dead Sea
  • The way was a dangerous path, frequented by robbers

1st person – Priest

  • Man had no identification and looked dead – touching would make him unclean

2nd person – Levite

  • Man was possible a sinner and this was his punishment

3rd person – Samaritan

  • Eating the bread of a Samaritan was like eating the food of pigs

It must have seemed like an insult for an expert of the law of Moses to be told to follow the example of a Samaritan. Of course this story could be told using different races and beliefs.

Will I show the love of God in my actions or not? There’s another twist to the story.

Who is the object of my love? = Who is my neighbor?

Jesus turned the question on its head, for the story is not about who is qualified to receive love, but who is capable of giving love.

Parable of the Unmerciful Servant – Matthew 18

(Forgiveness – not just 7 times, but 70 times 7)

Servant owed 10,000 (16 Million times the daily wage = more than what an entire province could afford). He was a corrupt official. The King canceled the entire debt. An act of mercy beyond believe; a royal pardon. The King had the power to punish and the power to forgive. He had chosen to forgive.

Servant had a fellow servant who owed him about 3 months wages. Servant sent the man who owed him to prison.

Servants of the King struggled to tell what happened because they might insult the King because it may seem that he had done the wrong thing. The king’s act of mercy had been intended to be an example of compassion, but the man who had been forgiven looked at it at a sign of weakness.

My heavenly Father will do the same to you, unless you forgive your brother from your heart (Matthew 6). God is not just interested in seeing us beg for mercy, He wants us to change. And if we’re not ready to do that, there is no forgiveness from God. So what should we do. First, we should ask God for forgiveness which we genuinely need, then we should be ready to give genuine forgiveness to other people.

Repentance should lead to a generous and forgiving attitude towards other people.

The Treasure and the Pearl

Matthew 13

Many centuries ago, many people were taken as prisoners, and so a rich man would bury his treasure in a piece of land, hoping to return to it later.

Many years later, a field worker found the treasure, but he knew that legally, the treasure belonged to whoever owned the land.

Only 1 choice: to buy the land. Sell everything he owned to buy the field. The land was his and legally, so was the treasure. Now people would know why he literally sold everything just to buy the piece of land.

Jesus made a point: Some things are just so important their value outweighs everything else.

PEARL

There was a merchant who buys pearls for a living. He has traveled the world and has built a network of contacts in conducting his business.

Gold was easy to find because there were a lot of craftsmen who could make fine gold jewelry, but a truly magnificent pearl was much harder to find.

The merchant has been trading pearls and it was his life’s dream to find the perfect pearl – a pearl whose value was more than anything he had ever seen before.

Merchant found a pearl that was the most precious in the whole world, but the price was beyond anything he had ever encountered. It would cost him all he had. He knew the value of his things but he also knew the value of the pearl, and he knew it was worth it. And he was glad to sell everything he had because he knew it worth everything he had and more.

Jesus said that the buried treasure and the pearl was like the kingdom of heaven – it was beyond comparison and is worth everything we have, and more. On one aspect, the farmer and the merchant cost them all they had to get that which is what they want, and they were glad to do it.

More than anything else, it was the sovereign rule of God, both now and in the future, in this life and in the life to come. For the person who is a follower of Jesus Christ, the sheer joy of being in the will of God and experiencing the control of God is far more important than anything else. After all, what’s the alternative? As Jesus said, what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his own soul?

The Midnight Visitor

Some of the stories told by Jesus Christ were about everyday life as he had seen it happen, and he used these happenings to illustrate our relationship with God. But not always. Sometimes, they were the very opposite.

Luke 11

The village was the kind of place were nothing much appeared to happen. But one day something unusual happened: a friend arrived unexpectedly one midnight, and for him to have arrived safely so late was something to thank God for. The rules of hospitality demanded that he be treated with great respect. It didn’t matter that it was midnight; first the guest must have his feet washed. Indeed, the proper treatment of a visitor was a matter of honor not only for the family but for the whole village.

But since the host did not have any bread left, he knocked on a neighbor’s house to ask for some bread, and though the neighbor was reluctant to get up at first, because of his persistence, the neighbor gave hi bread. Thus, the guest was fed and well-taken cared of, and the village was able to save its reputation as a place of hospitality.

Does using the word “love” so casually make it somehow not seem so precious and pure? Does using love for common things like food or fashion make it less pure and holy?

Jesus finished his story with saying, “Keep on asking, and you will receive, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you.”

For some people God is like the neighbor in the story: He will help us out, but only after a lot of ‘s persuading and is very inconvenient. Think about this: what was the neighbor’s motive: was it out of friendship, or was it a sense of duty? Perhaps the fear of losing face in the community? Jesus was saying, “Do you really think God is like this? Of course not! God does not give grudgingly, but generously, because God is good, all the time.”

The Dinner

Luke 14 – Middle eastern stories talk about honor and generosity

A certain man held a dinner and invited many people. Preparation was done many days before the meal. A servant was sent out to remind the guests it was time to come. It was the custom to hang a piece of cloth outside the house. While the cloth was there, it means that the guests who were invited were welcome. After it was removed, the door would be closed.

The first guest the servant spoke to said he bought a land and was going to take a look at it and so he asked to be excused from the banquet. Strange, for surely the man would have already looked at it before he bought it.

The next guest also made excuses – he said he just bought oxen and he said he was going to test them. This could not be true! Nobody buys cattle without first inspecting them!

The next guest did not even apologize, he just made a statement. “I have married a wife, therefore, I cannot come.” Did he not know he would be married by this day?

Gradually it became clear. It was a deliberate insult to the generosity of the master – the whole community had rejected him.

The master was very upset, but he must show the true meaning of hospitality. He asked his servant to go out again to invite the lame, the blind, the poor – people who would be thankful to have a place of honor in the banquet. The servant was asked to come out a second time. Some people might not believe the good news immediately but they knew what it would mean.

By accepting his invitation they would associate themselves with the name of the man who provided the dinner and from now on they were on his side and they were expected to be loyal. The master not ask them to bring gifts, but they could not change the date; they were to come as they were, right away.

So the dinner was not canceled and the people who ate the food were people who appreciated it and were glad to have it. But for the men who were invited first, there was no second chance.

Jesus invited people into the kingdom of God but the Pharisees just criticized him. Mostly it was people who knew they were sinners and needed him who became his disciples.

Jesus wanted all kinds of people to know him, but some of the rich were so involved with their businesses and pleasures that they failed to respond to the invitation – and so very foolishly, they excluded themselves from the kingdom of God. While some who were strictly religious preferred to criticize him for accepting and welcoming those they call sinners. It didn’t have to be like that. God is generous! The invitation to be in His kingdom is for everyone. The meal is served. But God will not force us, we can say “Yes”, or we can refuse the invitation and miss the party. Today is the day of invitation. Tomorrow? Who can say?

The Manager

Luke 16 – The manager who lost his job

During the time of Jesus, the olive trees in Judea produced abundant olive oil. But the farmers faced a problem: crop of olives could not be sold and turned into cash until after the harvest. And in the meantime there were bills to be paid.

The story was about a manager whose business it was to lend the farmers money. He was employed by a rich man who wanted to lend money and make a profit by doing so. But the law of Moses would not allow them to take interest from a loan for a fellow Jew, so the farmer had to sign a note promising a share of the harvest to the lender equal to the principal plus interest. It was not quite respectable, and that’s why the rich man employed a manager who would take care of the contracts.

But today he was angry. He found out that the manager had mishandled his money and so he fired him. The manager faced a hopeless situation. He was old and not strong enough to work as a laborer, and with his situation nobody would employ him again as manager. He was too proud to beg, so somehow, he must find a way out.

He still had a few hours that he had control of the business so he had to act quickly. He could not rob his master, but he could make some changes that would be perfectly legal before he turned the accounts in. The answer was so simple and so obvious, he must ask quietly and quickly.

He sent for the farmers one by one. The olive grower came first. The manager asked him to change the amount due from 100 to 50 – it was a free loan! The interest had been removed! The olive grower was so grateful to the manager and would be willing to do anything to show his appreciation to the manager.

The wheat farmer also had his loan changed from 100 to 80 – all for the benefit of the farmer. The loan still had to be repayed on time, but with no interest. Both of the farmers were now in debt to the manager, and he would always be welcome to eat dinner at both their homes.

And so it went on. By the end of the day, there were a lot of very happy customers and one very popular manager. What could the master do? The law of Moses said no interest at all. The manager did his dirty work for him charging high interest rates. But the master himself told the manager to put the accounts in order and that was precisely what he did – not in the way the master expected but according to the law of Moses. Now the whole community was singing praises to the man who charged no interest calling him a true son of Abraham. The master may not like what the manager had done but he could only admire his quick thinking.

The master only got what he deserved and the manager made many new useful friends. Very clever. The disciples were still chuckling when Jesus turned it on them. Men of the world were more clever. Make friends for yourself with worldly wealth, so that when it is gone, you will be received in heaven.

Jesus does not comment on the ethics of the master or his manager. They were men of the world. He says nothing about the rights and wrongs of charging interest. What he does say is this. The manager was clever. He lost his job, but for a limited time he had control of a lot of money. So he used it to buy himself friends.

Now we are here on earth for a limited time with a limited amount of wealth, and so we should also use it wisely. Our opportunity to do good on this earth is very short, but we can use what we have to be a blessing to other people. In the future, that blessing would come back to us. Obeying God and doing what we can to help others is beyond value. Well that’s obvious. And yet some of us seem to be ignoring this fact. If we behaved in business what we behave towards God, some of us may be bankrupt tomorrow morning.

Some of Jesus’ stories are disturbing and that is what Jesus intended. How do we respond to them will determine what we will become.

Advertisements

The Bible in 90 Days Journal: 2Chronicles (Foolish Wisdom)

Leave a comment

Solomon brought Pharaoh’s daughter up from the City of David to the palace he had built for her, for he said, “My wife must not live in the palace of David king of Israel, because the places the ark of the Lord has entered are holy.” (2 Chronicles 8:11 NIV)

Solomon was clearly disobeying God’s instructions (which is not to intermarry with foreign women) when he married Pharaoh’s daughter and yet was careful not to let her live in a “holy place” lest he offend God. Hmmm…

God is not pleased with such half-hearted obedience and it eventually led to Solomon’s downfall. He put all those laws in place for a reason — He even said why (because the foreign women would lead them to worship the pagan gods), but we still see the wisest person who ever lived ignore God’s voice and still commit a very foolish mistake.

How many times have we also chosen to obey God’s Words that seem acceptable to us while at the same time consciously ignoring other commands that would cause us inconvenience?

“Those who trust in themselves are fools, but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe.” – Proverbs 28:26

We cannot choose for ourselves what are the things that would be acceptable to God or not. To trust our own wisdom would be very foolish. Deliberately choosing to obey one aspect of God’s instructions thinking it is more important, while at the same time knowingly disregarding another is a recipe for failure. God has set up a standard of holiness and we need to know His heart if we are to understand how to follow Him correctly. True wisdom comes from listening and obeying God’s voice, whether it seems convenient or not.

“To God belong wisdom and power; counsel and understanding are his.” – Job 12:13

The Bible in 90 days Journal: Exodus and Leviticus (Much Ado About Offerings)

Leave a comment

Reading through Leviticus was a much bigger struggle than Genesis and Exodus. I got overwhelmed with all the specific instructions about the what, when, and how to offer sacrifices; namely, the burnt offering, grain offering, peace offering, sin offering, guilt offering and ordination offering. Truly, there is “much ado about offerings.”

However, as I was reading through the chapters, I suddenly had a realization: If the Israelites had been commanded to make all these different offerings of animals and grain, then it must be assumed that they as a matter of fact had a lot of animals and a significant amount of grain with them. It was after all, from these daily sacrifices that the Levites get their portion and they even had regulations where and up to when they could eat it.

In Exodus 12:32, the Pharaoh sent them away with their flocks and herds after the death of the firstborn of Egypt, and so we know where the animals came from. Now as for the grain, it seemed unlikely for the people to plant and cultivate wheat in the desert, so it would be most probable that they brought a lot of grain with them as well when they left Egypt and crossed the Red Sea.

With this realization came a big question: If they had all these sources of food, then why would the Israelites complain of “starving to death” on the desert? They had their animals and grain which they could have eaten!

Here’s the scripture wherein they grumbled against the Lord:

The whole Israelite community set out from Elim and came to the Desert of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had come out of Egypt. In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the Lord ’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.” (Exodus 16:1-3 NIV)

This prompted a bit of researching (another stall in my daily reading, but I couldn’t help it; I have to try and make sense of what I’m reading, right?). Unfortunately, it appears that scripture is silent as to the specific source of grain while they were in the desert. They probably brought some from Egypt, it is possible they traded with other peoples while in the desert, or maybe they found some grain in the desert — it’s all speculation. However, since God commanded them to offer it, it would be safe to assume that God also provided them with a source where to get such offering.

What we do know is that for 40 years, God provided them with manna or the “bread from heaven” to eat. They had quail in the evening and manna in the morning the day after they complained. God made sure their needs were met, even though they weren’t always gracious nor deserving of God’s generosity.

The Israelites did not lack God’s provision. They lacked faith. And perseverance. And persevering faith.

Today, during our Praise and Worship, we sang the song, “Ikaw Lamang” which talks about God’s goodness and grace. As I sang it today, it became a personal acknowledgment of how God chose to show his goodness to me; how He has given me such a wonderful family; how He has blessed us with all that we need and more. I realized more deeply how God, by His grace and mercy, has allowed that a proud, spolied, fault-finding, rebellious and always complaining, miserable individual such as myself would ever be called a child of God.

Grace: “God’s unmerited favor.” Being blessed even when we don’t deserve it.

I found myself humbled at His presence, as I pieced together the different things He has led me to ponder on these last few days. I have been reflecting on how God has never allowed me to experience deep suffering and hard trials, and yet as a child and even as an adult, I was angry at God and complained about things that others would already count as blessings in comparison to their own suffering.

To put it simply, I know I’ve had an easy life compared to most others, and still, I spend a lot of time grumbling against God.

Not very far from what the Israelites in the desert did, right? They were blessed far more than any other nation; they have seen God’s mighty hand as they were kept safe from the 10 plagues; they saw how God made the Egyptians give them silver and gold as they left Egypt and they came out of bondage with much wealth; they witnessed how God parted the Red Sea and punished those who had oppressed them;  they were freed from slavery and was given a wonderful promise from God that they were to come to their abundant inheritance of the land of milk and honey.

With a renewed heart, I continued to sing to the Lord, asking forgiveness for my shortsightedness and thanking Him for His grace. I sang to ask for His help to always see His goodness in everything and to commit myself and my whole family once again to serve Him with all our hearts, soul and minds; to offer ourselves as a living sacrifice; an offering that will reach the heart of God…

To Love God with all that we are, and with all that we’ve got.

We may not always get it right, indeed we will fail often; but with God’s grace, we have a reason to have a faith that perseveres;  a confidence that “He who began a good work in us will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”(Philippians 1:6)

Almighty God, You are soooo GOOD! We love You, LORD!

The Bible in 90 days Journal: Genesis (Lot Saved by God’s Grace)

Leave a comment

(Note: These are personal reflections regarding certain verses that caught my attention as I am journeying to read the Bible from cover-to-cover in 90 days. I am not a bible scholar or anything of that sort. I am but an ordinary person serving an extraordinary God.) 

THE STORY OF LOT: A Picture of God’s Saving Grace

With the coming of dawn, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished.” When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the Lord was merciful to them. (Genesis 19:15, 16 NIV)

What an amazing story of how God takes care of His chosen ones. Even if Lot was a stubborn sheep, hesitant to obey and not deserving any favors considering his many failures, the Good Shepherd remained faithful and kept Lot from being destroyed, even it it meant He had to purposely “grasp his hand” and lead them out of the city of Sodom and Gomorrah.

So both of Lot’s daughters became pregnant by their father. The older daughter had a son, and she named him Moab; he is the father of the Moabites of today. (Genesis 19:36, 37 NIV)

What men do for evil, God is able to turn for good. After receiving such mercy from God to spare their lives when Sodom and Gomorrah was destroyed, this little family who fled to the mountains sinned the unthinkable. But the offspring became the father of the Moabites, from which Ruth came from. Ruth was the mother of Obed (by her union with Boaz), who was the father of Jesse, who was the father of David.

The Bible in 90 days Journal: Genesis (The fall of man)

Leave a comment

THE GREAT DECEPTION AND FALL OF MAN

It is common knowledge that Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden of Eden and evil came to our world through their sin of disobedience. Satan deceived Eve by making her doubt God’s Words, and he made the temptation sound wonderful by making an offer that by eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, they could “BE LIKE GOD.”

““You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and YOU WILL BE LIKE GOD, knowing good and evil.” – Genesis 3:4-5

This was actually Satan’s own desire as we read how he wanted to raise his throne above the stars of God and said, “I will make myself like the Most High.” (Isaiah 14;13, 14)

How ironic because this desire to “be like God” was in fact, God’s plan and purpose for the human race.

“So God CREATED MANKIND IN HIS OWN IMAGE, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27).”

From the start, God had in mind that man was to “be like Him” (made in His image and likeness). By eating the fruit from the forbidden tree, Adam and Eve bypassed God’s original plan which was in all likelihood, to have us undergo a certain “processing” of some sort so that we could be more and more like Him. When Adam and Eve were still connected to the Spirit of God, all wisdom and knowledge was given to them as it pleased God to so. When the serpent made them question God’s motives of placing a rule for them,  they took it upon themselves to use their own efforts to make this desired thing of “being like God” happen; they did not let God be God. This, of course, displeased our Maker, and our loving God who is also the God of justice punished them for their sin.

It seems that this desire to “be like God” and to exalt oneself was a constant struggle for man, for even right after the great flood, the people gathered together and said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, SO THAT WE MAY MAKE A NAME FOR OURSELVES; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”

To me, what is striking is how people so long to achieve something that God has in fact already designed for man in the first place. Man tends to ignore “Master Planner” and tries to achieve the goal by his own strength, wisdom and efforts, rather than work with the Creator Himself and be led to become what He has created us to be, which again, ironically, is to be like Him.

But God, being the sovereign God who holds everything in His might hand, did not give up on mankind because of what happened that fateful day in the garden. Instead, God’s purpose remains, and to those whom He has chosen to believe, we are being perfected from glory to glory, with the goal to be more and more like Christ, ending in perfection with our glorified bodies when we will be like Christ and see Him face to face.

“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, CREATED TO BE LIKE GOD in true righteousness and holiness.” – Ephesians 4:22-24

“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are BEING TRANSFORMED INTO HIS IMAGE WITH EVER-INCREASING GLORY, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” – 2 Corinthians 3:18

“For those God foreknew he also predestined to BE CONFORMED TO THE IMAGE OF HIS SON, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” – Romans 8:29

(Note: This particular revelation is something I learned from the ST505 course in http://christiancourses.com/ from Dr. Roger Nicole. As I started the the Bible in 90 days plan, it was one of the first things that came to mind as I read the book of Genesis.)