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BETHLEHEM LUTHERAN CHURCH: | Mason City, Iowa USA | Pastor Mark Lavrenz

Sep 18, 2016  SERMON ARCHIVE

Sunday Sermon - Pastor Lavrenz Stained Glass - Communion

Grace, mercy and peace to you from God our Heavenly Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! Amen.

We read in Luke 16:1-15 thee words:

He also said to the disciples, "There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was wasting his possessions. And he called him and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Turn in the account of your management, for you can no longer be manager.’ And the manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do, since my master is taking the management away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. I have decided what to do, so that when I am removed from management, people may receive me into their houses.’ So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ He said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’ Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ He said, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’ 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. And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings. "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 Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things, and they ridiculed him. And he said to them, "You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.

We begin in the name of Jesus, AMEN

This morning, I think you should all bow your heads and thank Jesus that He would use a dishonest, unrighteous person as an example for each of you to emulate in your life.

This morning, I think you should all bow your heads and thank Jesus that He would use a dishonest, unrighteous person as an example each of you to emulate in your life.

Now, most of you are probably saying to yourself, "What, has Pastor gone completely of his rocker, more so than he was already? What does he mean that Jesus used a dishonest and unrighteous person for me to emulate in my life?

My friends, I want you to sit here this morning, and think about it. If Jesus had used a perfectly faithful and 100% honest man for your example, you would have no chance. Think about it, you might well assume and agree that complete honesty is the best approach in all cases, but I ask you, who can do it? If you would claim to be 100% honest 100% of the time, you would be dishonest.

Jesus knew this. Jesus held up for your example a man who was, in a certain sense, beneath you. Think about it. Most Christians probably feel appalled that the manager in this Gospel would so brazenly cut down his master’s accounts.

Do try to get over that. Use today’s Gospel as a way of climbing down off your high horses.

Stained Glass Baptism Window

Feel happy that Jesus is fully able to produce many good and wonderful things, even by using people such as this dishonest manger, or opportunistic you, or despicable me. Focus on your Lord’s main point: "The master commended the dishonest manager for his shrewdness," that is, his wisdom, his insight, his depth of thinking, his savvy.

Ask the question? What was wise and savvy about this manager, according to today’s Gospel? Well, for one thing: this manager realized that he could use someone else’s property as a powerful tool for showing generosity and love toward his neighbor.

Let me say it again in case you didn’t hear: this dishonest manager used someone else’s property to show generous love toward others. Jesus wants you and me to do the same.

There are two ways that today’s Gospel can be applied to you, both for your joy and for your instruction: First, today’s Gospel speaks about Jesus wanting me (and all other Christian pastors) to use someone else’s property as a way of showing generous and extravagant love toward you; But Jesus also applies today’s Gospel in a manner that includes you in the mix. In other words, Jesus wants you (and all other Christians) to likewise use someone else’s property in showing generous love toward other people in your life.

Today’s Gospel opens with these Words: "Jesus said to His disciples." It is very likely that many Christians were listening that day Jesus spoke, but Jesus singled out those men who were specifically entrusted with the office of preaching and teaching in the Church. I am no better than any of you, in fact, I am probably less honest than most of you. But the Words, "Jesus said to His disciples" should evoke thoughts concerning the Office of the Holy Ministry in your midst. This is why I earlier said to you that Jesus wants me (and all other pastors) to use someone else’s property as a way of showing generous and even extravagant love toward you.

Who is the Master? Christ Jesus our Lord, against whom you have incurred great debt on account of your sins. If you should think you do not owe very much debt, a few minutes with the Ten Commandments should cure you of that delusion.

What is a wise and praiseworthy thing for the Office of the Ministry to do? The Office of the Ministry can do nothing better, nothing more insightful and savvy, than to announce that your debts have been slashed and your load lightened. In other words, the Office of the Ministry is at its best when it takes what belongs to Jesus and credits it to you.

This dishonest manager heard confession from each of his Master’s debtors, and then he cut each person’s debt. In the very same way, I likewise hear you describe your debt when you confessed your sins. But forget about cutting the bill in half!

I will commit a greater act of robbery than this dishonest manager: Go ahead and write your account down to zero. As a called and ordained servant of the Word—that is, as a manager in the house of Christ my Master, and by His command—I forgive you ALL your sins, ALL your debts before God in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Rest assured, dear friends, this is the very thing that Jesus wants me and all pastors to do. Thus is written, "The master commended the dishonest manager for his shrewdness."

However, today’s Gospel does not apply just to those who hold the preaching office of the Church. In the same way that Jesus wants me to use His property in showing generous love toward you, He also wants you to do the same. Jesus wants you (and all other Christians) to use someone else’s property in showing generous love toward other people in your life.

Speaking in a manner that applies to all Christians—including you personally—Jesus says at the end of today’s Gospel, "Make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings."

Stained Glass Confirmation Window

Do not take these Words the wrong way. Jesus is not saying that you should use your money to buy your way into heaven. Not only would that be impossible for you to do, but Christ your Lord has already fully opened the door to your salvation by His death and resurrection. There is nothing more for you to add in that direction.

When Jesus says, "Make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth," He is telling to you: First, To take better care of your friends than you do your furniture. Act as if your neighbor is more important than your possessions.

Second, To believe that your name and reputation as an adopted child of God is much more important than your stuff. (By the way, your stuff really does not belong to you, anyway.) Third, that you pattern yourself after the dishonest manager in today’s Gospel. He was commended "for his shrewdness," that is, his "wisdom," "his insight," "his depth of thinking," and "his savvy."

The master commended his manager because the manager had acted somewhat like a chess player who makes an unexpected move that perhaps only a few people could have seen coming. You have the power to do the same, acting with generosity that few others might even see coming, because God has enlivened you through His Word and Spirit.

This dis-honest manager realized that he could use someone else’s property as a powerful tool for showing love toward his neighbor. Jesus wants you to do the same, now that He has given all things to you. This dishonest manager acted with boldness and insolence. If his master had been a hard man, a man who loved his materials and his accounts more than anything else, this dishonest manager would have met hard discipline for his actions. But he did not. Neither shall you, when you act with the same boldness and insolence with your Lord’s possessions.

Who is the Master? Jesus Christ your Lord, to whom God the Father has given all things in heaven and earth. Thus it is written, "God [the Father] has put all things in subjection under His feet" (1 Corinthians15:27).

Who is the Master? Jesus Christ your Lord about whom it is written, "The sea is His, for He made it, and His hands formed the dry land" (Psalm 95:5).

Who is the Master? Jesus Christ your Lord, who measures both your life and His own, not by what is gathered, but by what is scattered. Thus it is written, "He has scattered His gifts abroad" (Psalm 112:9).

Who is the Master? Jesus Christ your Lord about whom it is said in the Word, "When He ascended on high… He gave gifts to men" (Ephesians 4:8).

Who is the Master? Jesus Christ your Lord, who continually produces many good and wonderful things upon this earth, even by using a dishonest manger, an opportunistic you, and a despicable me.

Who is the Master? Jesus Christ your Lord, about whom we proclaim....

Christ is risen.

Luther Rose

 

Christ Is Risen
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