(Translated version, original article written in Chinese by Pastor Mickey Hsiao)
By singing praises and hymns, awake your soul, open your heart to the Lord, and prepare yourself to welcome the presence of God and receive the Word of God that will be given to you.
Petition with thanksgiving to God for a wonderful day and pray sincerely for a focused Scripture reading time! (Do not rush into reading the Bible without starting with prayers!) (e.g., you may start with a simple prayer like this: “Dear Lord, what will you be speaking to me today?)
Get the following items ready in advance: your devotional notebook, paper, pen, and/or electronic devotional articles so that you can easily write down the Bible verses, questions, and thoughts you have noticed! You are encouraged to open your Bible and vocally read out the scriptures (Try to practice this reading method daily or once a week)!
Scripture Reading: Luke Ch. 16 (ESV)
Take a moment to quietly reflect on today’s Scriptures. Through such exercises, let God’s Word be gradually written into our hearts and be inscribed to our mind.
Read the devotional articles prepared by CBCLWA (*Read the Bible first before reading any devotional materials.)
(vv.1-11) Many people may be troubled by this parable. This manager was clearly dishonest, so why use such a character in a parable? Perhaps Jesus intentionally used the stark contrast to catch our attention. Let us first be clear about what this parable is NOT about. It is definitely not encouraging us to gain financial wealth through unethical means, such as lavishly spending other people’s money. The parable does not justify such behavior. Jesus clearly stated that this manager was:
- Dishonest: He not only wasted the master’s possessions, but he also committed accounting fraud. Under today’s laws his actions would be viewed as criminal acts!
- Shrewd: The sons of this world are more cunning in dealing with wealth than the sons of light. He took advantage of other people’s money to entice them to receive him into their homes, thereby securing his future.
This manager was commended for his shrewdness – a quality we can learn to develop. He saw a crisis on the horizon and took action to prepare for it. He knew how to view and use wealth in order to maximize his personal benefit. Jesus was making this point when he said, “Make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails, they may receive you into the eternal dwellings.”
The mistake we often make is that while one “cannot serve both God and money”, we often grab onto money more tightly than anything else. We do not know how to manage it or how to generously share it. As a result, we miss opportunities on more important matters. Let us reflect on the dishonest and shrewd manager. How can we do better at the place where financial wealth and the eternal human soul intersect? Starting this week, consider how you can adjust your spending. Take, for instance, the money you would spend for coffee or boba tea for yourself and spend it, instead, on building bridges and sharing the gospel with others. Share your idea with your prayer partner and ask him/her to pray for you. Let us start with something small to learn how to be God’s faithful managers!
(vv.14-18) After the Lord Jesus told the parable of the dishonest manager, the Pharisees ridiculed him because they were lovers of money. In their eyes, wealth was proof of God’s favor. Though their pious outward appearance, Jesus rebuked their self-justifying attitude and greed. Jesus further pointed out that a new era of preaching the good news of the kingdom of God had begun, an era that came after the era of the Law and the Prophets. People ought to carefully consider and actively obey His teachings so that they may enter the kingdom of God. Jesus emphasized, “Until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” (Matt. 5:17) Jesus did not come to abolish the Law, but to correct the Pharisees on their mistaken interpretation of the Law and the resulting wrong actions. He then pointed out an example. At that time, people could use all kinds of excuses to divorce and remarry. In reality, such behavior amounted to the sin of adultery as stated in the Ten Commandments, something that God detests.
We need to conduct ourselves as people who always have the Gospel of Christ in their hearts, lest we make the same mistake as the Pharisees, who misused the Word of God in order to rationalize the sins they had committed.
(vv. 19-33) The parable of the “Rich Man and Lazarus” is unique to the Book of Luke and deeply personal, even using the name Lazarus for one of the characters. In this parable, the rich man did not have the wisdom to plan for eternity until it was too late to repent. He stood in contrast to the shrewd manager from earlier. The rich man had a big problem. We see how he feasted sumptuously every day, spending money on his own pleasures, but ignored the beggar at his front door. He could have used his wealth to help the poor, but he chose not to. His attitude is a perfect example of what Jesus meant when He said in verse 11 about being an unfaithful manager in wealth. If we put wealth first, if we worship it, then one day we will share the same fate as the rich man.
In addition, this parable illustrates the very important fact that heaven and hell do exist. They are closely related to your life on earth! The rich man’s suffered unbearable torment in Hades. On the opposite side of the great chasm lies the place where Lazarus and Abraham are, representing being with the Lord in paradise!
The rich man’s last request from Hades was for Lazarus to go to his five brothers to be a witness to them. Pay special attention to what Abraham said in the end: “If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.” Truly faith comes from hearing the Word. If a person is unwilling to believe in the Word of God, then neither would he be convinced by miracles and personal testimonies. Let this fact serve as a reminder for us as we prepare to share the gospel, be a witness for Christ, and call others into repentance!
Give thanks to God for His enabling us to read the Scriptures and for our response for living out the Word of God today! (e.g., You may start with a simple prayer like this: “Dear Lord, what/where are you going to lead me to today?”)