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This week's sermon:

            Luke 16:1-13  -  "Increasing Our Standard of Giving"
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Before John Wesley became the founder of the Methodist Church he was a teacher at Oxford University back in the 1700’s. When he began his career he was paid 30 pounds per year - in those days a lot of money. His living expenses were 28 pounds - so he gave 2 pounds away.


The next year his income doubled - but he still managed to live on 28 pounds - so he gave away 32 pounds. The third year he earned 90 pounds - lived on 28 - and gave away 62. The fourth year he earned 120 pounds - lived on 28 - and gave away 92. One year his income was a little over 1,400 pounds - he lived on 30 and gave away nearly all of the 1,400 pounds.


Wesley felt that with increasing income, what should rise is not the Christian’s standard of living but the standard of giving. Increasing our standard of giving. What a great Christian man and what a great lesson he taught us. It is the same lesson found in the parable for today. Let’s take a look. The Pharisees are standing off to the side watching Jesus as was their custom. Jesus disciples are listening intently as he tells his story. Probably on this occasion there were more than jus the 12. A large number of followers are gathered around. He tells them about a steward who handled all the business affairs of a wealthy man. But the steward has squandered his master’s money; he was reckless and wasteful. Notice that this story follows another story about a reckless young man who squandered his father’s wealth, the prodigal son. But in this story the reckless young man does not come to his senses in time and he is fired from his job.


Then he does something so shrewd and conniving. As he is cleaning out his desk and clearing out his things he calls in his master’s debtors, those who had outstanding accounts, and cut those debts in half. You owe 800 gallons of olive oil? Write me check for 400 and we will call it even. You owe a thousand bushels of wheat? Write me a check for 800 and we’ll call it even. He forgives the debts that are not his to forgive, and he gains friends in the process. As a result his master commends him.


So what is Jesus’ point? Well, there’s not just one point there are a few. Let’s take a look.


1. First He Explains the Wise Use of Worldly Wealth.

2. Second, Trustworthiness is Measured by Character.

3. Third, Our Service must be Singular.


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What Is Unique About Christianity?

The story of Jesus sitting and debating the Law with rabbis reminds me of another debate that took place in a comparative religions conference, the wise and the scholarly were in a spirited debate about what is unique about Christianity. Someone suggested what set Christianity apart from other religions was the concept of incarnation, the idea that God became incarnate in human form. But someone quickly said, “Well, actually, other faiths believe that God appears in human form.” Another suggestion was offered: what about resurrection? The belief that death is not the final word. That the tomb was found empty. Someone slowly shook his head. Other religions have accounts of people returning from the dead.

Then, as the story is told, C.S. Lewis walked into the room, tweed jacket, pipe, armful of papers, a little early for his presentation. He sat down and took in the conversation, which had by now evolved into a fierce debate. Finally during a lull, he spoke saying, “what's all this rumpus about?” Everyone turned in his direction. Trying to explain themselves they said, “We're debating what's unique about Christianity.” “Oh, that's easy,” answered Lewis, “it's....


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