Hope Personified

Hope Personified
Small group, Mobberly Baptist Church, June 22, 2014
Who are your favorite TV dads? Here are those TV dads that bring me fond memories (not ranked in any order):
1. Jim Anderson, “Father Knows Best” (Robert Young): Jim always had a solution for things when his wife and kids needed him. Everything got solved in 30 minutes! This show started on network radio on NBC and when television started growing, Young and his partner Gene Rodney took it to Columbia Pictures’ TV division and the show ran from 1953 to 1963, first on CBS and later NBC. Also ran in reruns in daytime on ABC.
2. Ward Cleaver, “Leave It To Beaver” (Hugh Beaumont): Ward was a great father to Wally and The Beaver but you sure didn’t want to cross him! Beaumont in real life was a Methodist minister and a movie actor in the 1940s playing the role of Detective Michael Shayne. The Beaver show started on CBS in 1957 but moved to ABC and stayed there until 1963. Has been in syndication since!
3. Cliff Huxtable, “The Cosby Show” (Bill Cosby):Nothing more needs to be said… remains one of the most successful shows in television history. Big hit when it ran on NBC and later in syndication.
4. Ben Cartwright, “Bonanza” (Lorne Greene):Ben would do anything for Hoss, Little Joe, and Adam…. all born with different mothers that were married to Ben… ostensibly the women died giving childbirth. Airing on TV since 1959.
5. Tim Taylor, “Home Improvement” (Tim Allen): In the 1990s, it was one of the most watched sitcoms in the American market, winning many awards. The series launched Tim Allen’s acting career and also was the start of the television career of Pamela Anderson, who was part of the recurring cast for the first two seasons.
6. Charles Ingalls, “Little House On The Prairie” (Michael Landon): Father to four daughters, three adopted kids, and husband to Caroline, making a living during the 1800s. Based on books written by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Ran on NBC from 1974-1983.
7. Andy Taylor, “The Andy Griffith Show” (Andy Griffith): This show was a spin off from “Make Room For Daddy” starring Danny Thomas. Thomas and Sheldon Leonard who were the producers created the Griffith show and as we all know this show became iconic with millions of Americans. After 50 years, the show still can be seen and in some areas of the country it is scheduled around local TV newcasts. Ran on CBS from 1961-1968.
8. Mike Brady, “The Brady Bunch” (Robert Reed):Great TV father and husband. In real life, Reed clashed with the show’s producer Sherwood Schwartz over creative issues. Reed was a Shakespearean trained actor and thought that some of the stuff on “The Brady Bunch” was hokey, but Schwartz would have nothing to do with it. Ran on ABC from 1969-1974 and still airing today.
9. Jed Clampett, “The Beverly Hillbillies” (Buddy Ebsen): Ebsen was a dancer by training and appeared in movies during the 1930s and 1940s. Television revived his career when producer Paul Henning cast him as the head of the Clampett family who strikes oil in the Ozarks and goes from rags to riches while trying to fit in Beverly Hills, California.
10. Steve Douglas, “My Three Sons” (Fred MacMurray): MacMurray was a Hollywood movie actor starting in the 1930s, usually cast as a tough guy (“Double Indemnity”) but later was cast in movies produced by Disney in softer, comedic roles. MacMurray was one of the richest actors in Hollywood in his day, known around town as a tightwad! He was a great TV father on “My Three Sons,” but on the set he would come and do his part and leave, not very personable with the kids. Show ran on CBS from 1960-1972.

Everyone’s perception of God is colored to some degree by their attitude and relationship with their father. Even those who never knew their father might see God as an absentee God or they will paint God as the type of father they wish they had. Throughout the Bible, God is referred to as our Father. Jesus used an illustration of a father to help us grasp the depth of God the Father’s love for us.
READ Luke 15:11-12
During this time, the religious leaders criticized Jesus, not because the tax collectors and sinners were coming to Him, but because he was welcoming them. Jesus told three parables to illustrate lostness and the importance God places on recovering those who are lost. The third one, His parable about the prodigal son, illustrates how a loving father welcomes any sinner who comes to Him. It increased the percentage loss from 1 out of 100 sheep to 1 out of 10 coins to 1 out of 2 sons. However, the loss of a son rather than sheep or silver ramps up the devastation. So the third parable clarified and complemented Jesus’ instruction concerning the rescue of a sinner through the gospel. Each of the three stories shows the sinner’s repentance and return to God.
The Pharisees repeatedly failed to realize what brings God contentment, satisfaction and joy. The Pharisees and scribes grumbled about Jesus’ welcoming tax collectors and sinners in the first two verses of this chapter. Dining with the crowd gave a silent affirmation and approval to them as persons, outraging the Pharisees and scribes who would never have socialized with such people.
WHO WAS THIS PARABLE REALLY ABOUT? The father – not the prodigal son
Jesus began the parable with, “A man had two sons”. The father symbolized God the Father. The younger son typified a repentant sinner and the older son represented the self-righteous Pharisees. The younger son demanded his share of the estate from his father to try to find a happy life in a distant country. Judaism advised against granting such a request, but it could happen. A son asking for his share of the estate showed disrespect by suggesting he could not wait for his father to die. The demand communicated that his father no longer fit into his plans. By demanding his inheritance, the son sowed seeds of discord in the family.
By the way, this (sowing discord) is one of the things God hates:
READ Proverbs 6:16-19
#1 – He had the freedom to choose
His actions harmed the father’s reputation, jeopardized his family’s financial security and fractured the family. The father, who did not refuse the son’s outrageous request, distributed the assets (to both sons).
READ Luke 15:13-19
After cashing in his share of the estate to bankroll his rebellion, the younger son headed off to a distant country. Jesus reported ever so briefly that the son wasted all he had through poor choices. All the money he could have could not provide what he was really looking for. Having tried everything he could do on his own, he then chose to return to where he had all he needed to start with.
Coming to his senses (you might too if you couldn’t even get the leftovers from pig’s food) and remembering how his father’s servants lived, he had to go back home. His actions, more important than any emotional feelings of remorse, show the appropriate changes in thinking and behavior. He accepted full responsibility for destroying the relationship with his father and sought reconciliation. BUT…
No respectable father in that time would have greeted a rebellious son if he would return. It would break all Middle Eastern protocol. The son’s outrageous and rebellious actions had brought dishonor upon his father and tarnished his family’s name. The Pharisees and scribes would have expected the father to have refused to meet him, or to have forced him to sit outside the family gate in public view so the whole town could browbeat him with shame. Furthermore, the son could expect to wait out certain period of time thoroughly humbling himself before his father. Only then, would the father tell him with a measure of indifference how long the son would have to work to restore what had been squandered. Only after the son had squared everything through the penances dictated by his father could he possibly hope to find some measure of favor again with his father.
#2 God has the love that embraces
IT IS POSSIBLE TO GO HOME AGAIN? IS IT YOU, SOMEONE YOU LOVE, OR KNOW? God yearns for us to return to Him, even if we have not rebelled like this. How do I know this? Check out the father’s response to seeing his son:
READ Luke 15:20-21
Jesus’ story blindsided His audience. While the son was still a long way off, his father saw him. At best, he could hope for a half-hearted welcome and perhaps some menial job working for his father. Oh, but consider this father! He must have waited daily; yearning to see his son return. Finally, he caught a glimpse of his dejected and emaciated boy – and it melted his heart in compassion. Throwing aside conventions of dignity, the father RAN with exuberance. He went beyond normal forgiveness and cascaded his son with incredible love!
Even before the disgraced son could butter up his father with his well-rehearsed confession, his father threw his arms around the boy’s neck and kissed him. Everything he did signaled his absolute affection and complete reconciliation.
The father’s demonstration of love and acceptance without the son paying for his transgressions shocked the scribes and the Pharisees. Even today, many people have adopted a similar view of spiritual economy – making works the means of salvation rather than God’s free gift of grace through faith.
#3 God has the grace that restores
This picture reveals God’s attitude and activity toward sinners:
READ Luke 15:7
While He longs to embrace and keep close those who rebel, just like the father in this parable, God will not force anyone to stay home. The father, like our Heavenly Father, had a love that remained constant despite the hurt caused by the son’s departure. His love did not stop at an embrace:
Read Luke 15:22-24
Despite the son’s actions, the father lavished on him the best gifts imaginable (still boggling the minds of the audience).
Bring out the best robe – either the master’s or the son’s to denote his place of love and honor in the family.
Put a ring on his finger – confirming the son’s return to a place of authority in the household
Put sandals on his feet – only the sons and the master wore shoes – full sonship
To completely restore a son who had shamed his father and blown through a third of the family’s assets (the older son was due a double portion according to the Jewish tradition) did not line up with their theology. They would have demanded at least a waiting period or reentry time with limitations on family privileges. NO – that is not the way our Heavenly Father works. He waits – even searches – for us to come home to Him.
READ Luke 19:10 – Jesus came to SEEK and save the lost
When we repent from our sinfulness and turn to Him, like the father in the parable, He absorbs the hurt and the loss and He lavishes us with the blessing of a full relationship with Him.
By linking the three parables in this chapter – the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son – Jesus gave a higher profile to the celebratory nature of the son’s return. The shepherd and the woman invited their friends to rejoice with them, but when the father did it – it was the biggest deal anyone could imagine.
Did the son earn it? No! Do WE deserve it? No! How great the love of our Father!
READ 1 John 3:1
We don’t have to hit rock bottom to decide to go home to our Father or to someone else. Instead we can make the decision now.
What now?
1. We can go home – if you have been keeping your distance from God, return to Him. Begin praying daily and reading your Bible. God will show you the way back and looking for you to return.
2. We can forgive generously – when was the last time you ran to forgive someone? Forgive even if it seems strange and shocking to everyone else around. Forgive as God as forgiven you (Ephesians 4:32). Let that someone know you’ve forgiven them. Don’t be like the older son (remember he was the picture of the Pharisees) – vs. 25-32.
3. We can invite someone home – engage in honest, but loving, conversation with a “prodigal” in your life. Patiently walk with the person as he or she finds the way to the Father.


Hope found

Let Hope in – Hope Found
Small Group, MBC, June 15, 2014
Common items to lose – keys, phone, wallet, remote. Why do we look frantically to find these? They all have value – some more than others. Our hope is that we WILL find them. WHAT DOES HOPE LOOK LIKE?
We all need hope, but yet, we are all without hope – but through Jesus, He forgives us of our past, removes our sins and gives us a new hope: a new abundant, eternal life. We are never beyond or outside of His redeeming hands.
We need to share this hope with all the broken people around us – today. Not some distant future of going to heaven when we die, we need to meet people with this hope and show them how to live today. We need to show defeated believers and nonbelievers that they can have hope in Jesus for today. Thoreau said that most people live lives of quiet desperation – filling their needs with pharmaceutical remedies, religious practices, lifestyle changes or a calendar filled with busyness (IS THIS A SIN?). It doesn’t fill the need that God created in each of us. Let’s look today at how Jesus can fill those deepest needs.
READ Matthew 8:1-4
Skin disease was a big deal in Jesus’ time. It could include more than just leprosy – anyone with dry skin or even peeling skin from sunburn could be of concern to others. In Bible times, leprosy began with specks, bumps or patches on the skin and gradually spread to cause sores and swellings. The disease debilitated the body, causing affected areas to ooze infectious fluids, become disfigured and eventually slough off. Old Testament law required anyone with this disease to live in isolation from society:
READ Leviticus 13:45-46
In an effort to keep the disease from spreading, a leper had to keep a distance of at least six feet, and with a strong wind, the distance could stretch to 150 feet. He had to warn anyone coming near to keep away by screaming out repeatedly, “Unclean, Unclean!”
When the leprous man saw Jesus, he confidently came up and knelt before Him. Prostrating himself before Jesus and calling Him “Lord” showed respect and acknowledged Him as God’s messianic agent without necessarily confessing belief that Jesus was God. The man assumed Jesus could cure his disease and declared “Lord if You are willing, You can make me clean.” This indicated both humility and faith. Likely, the man’s faith had grown from having seen or heard of Jesus’ other miracles.
No disease struck more fear in the hearts of people in the ancient world than leprosy. WHAT ABOUT TODAY – disease that causes this? The quarantine requirements imposed on lepers and the wretched nature of the disease’s effects forced them to live as untouchables trapped in hopeless misery. Yet, Jesus reached out His hand and touched him (WOULD YOU?) Jesus actions were shocking to his disciples and to those watching. CAN YOU HEAR THEM GASP?
Touching the man would have been viewed as violating the law:
READ Leviticus 5:3
Jesus was willing and did heal him – but more importantly, He met a another need – acceptance. WHAT ARE WE DOING TO MEET THAT NEED AROUND US? ARE WE WILLING? – Lesson #1 Jesus IS willing!
Did you catch the two commands Jesus gave to the man? 1) Don’t tell anyone & 2) Show yourself to the priest. WHY DID JESUS NOT WANT THE MAN TO ADVERTISE FOR HIM? Maybe He wanted to avoid the instant fame that would come with this miracle or maybe he wanted to make sure the man made it to the priest – since telling others before the priest had ratified his new status would have been pointless as well as contrary to the law (I did not come to do away with the law; but to fulfill it…)
Let’s think about that second command for a moment. Leviticus 14:1-32 goes through all of those rules he would have to do to offer the gift Moses prescribed – travel to Jerusalem, go through ritual and offering covering an eight day period, then trek back to his Galilean area home – a long process. The priest’s pronouncement would testify to everyone that the man had truly recovered and that Jesus did not violate any law – and, more importantly, that a sign of the Messiah’s arrival had come. But Jesus is not done yet…
READ Matthew 8:5-9
The next appeal for miraculous help came from one typically outcast by Jewish society (DOES THAT SOUND LIKE THE LEPER?), a Gentile, a Roman centurion. Likely, Matthew wanted to demonstrate that the disciples abandon ethnic and cultural prejudices. Having to live under Roman occupation, Matthew’s Jewish readers would have inbred hatred for Romans, especially Roman officers who were known to be especially cruel to the Jews. JESUS CAME TO SHOW THAT HE CAME FOR ALL PEOPLE. DO YOU HAVE CERTAIN PEOPLE GROUPS YOU HAVE DIFFICULTY WITH ACCEPTING OR FORGIVING? (Julie and blacks)
This centurion (commander of 100 men) had a reputation in the community…
READ Luke 7:2-5
This same guy came to Jesus, pleading with Him. Doubtless he had heard much about Jesus and possibly heard Him teach on the mountain near his post. He mostly likely heard about His healing powers. What is interesting is the bond the centurion had with his servant. One Jewish historian noted that it was not unusual for servants of Roman soldiers to train and fight with their masters. Maybe this servant was injured in a battle to protect his master recently. We don’t know the background, but we do know that this centurion was willing to disregard Jewish taboos about visiting a Gentile house. COULD JESUS HAVE HEALED HIS SERVANT FROM A DISTANCE? ARE YOU SEEING A THEME DEVELOP HERE? Lesson #2 – Jesus IS able.
Jesus at once said, “I will come and heal him”. Jesus’ response once again startled the crowd (and probably the disciples). The centurion may have been surprised as well – WHAT WAS HE EXPECTING? Maybe he knew the Jewish people well enough to understand how they felt about entering a Gentile’s home, so he simply said, “Lord, I am not worthy of You”. Maybe he felt this on a moral or spiritual level.
HAVE YOU EVER FELT UNWORTHY? Jesus still is willing to heal us and draw us close to Him.
Maybe he believed Jesus could cure from a distance – even though that was not heard of in their time. The difference is that the centurion did know something about order and authority and he did believe Jesus had the authority to heal his servant. WHAT HAPPENED NEXT?
READ Matthew 8:10-13 – Lesson #3 – Jesus IS looking for us to be faithful.
Jesus raised His eyebrow at this guy. Typically, we see people being astonished at what Jesus did or said. This time, it was Jesus who was amazed. This Gentile’s faith put to shame the stagnant piety that blinded so many religious leaders of Israel. Interestingly enough, Matthew chose the verb of discipleship to talk about those “following Jesus” – both the disciples and onlookers and now, those that authentically believed. The centurion represented the beginning of a stream of Gentiles who would join with faithful Israelites to enjoy eternal fellowship with God. (Something later seen with Paul)
Jesus used this as a teaching lesson – the Jews expected a place in Heaven because of their birthright.
Jesus saw that table with great diversity. He pictured the patriarchs sitting down with the Gentiles. Jesus challenged the assumption that the table was for Jews only. WHAT IS THIS TELLING US TODAY?
Jesus told the crowd that faithless Jews would be thrown into outer darkness (something usually only said of the ungodly in Jesus day – and usually reserved for talking about the Gentiles). Matthew gives us a contrast of the brightly illuminated banquet hall with the dark, damp, filthy dungeons or prisons of their times – shut off from the light of the sun, housing prisoners without light, company or comfort spending days and nights weeping from grief and gnashing their teeth from their anger at being in this place.
Jesus then demonstrated that He COULD heal from a distance – with a pronouncement of “Let it be done for you”. When He spoke it – it happened. WHAT ARE YOU NEEDING TODAY THAT ONLY JESUS CAN DO FOR YOU? Asking for His help is often hard to do. Trusting Him is allowing Him to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.
What now?
1. Identify your need(s). Ask for His help
2. Recognize that Jesus is worthy of our trust – more than what we put our trust in ($, people, etc.)
3. Find someone who needs hope – show Jesus’ love through your actions and point to Him