Bible insights from your friends at La Jolla Lutheran Church

All that God has is yours

Not everyone appreciates God's generosity. God is kind to everyone -- even if they undeserving. Some people think that only good people should be blessed. But Jesus disagrees and says that's not what God is like.

In Luke 15, he told a story that indicates that all God has is yours. It's not because you deserve it. It's because God is generous and loving.

This week's Bible study address the theme of God's generosity and our appropriate response of thankfulness to such amazing mercy.

(A random question just for fun:)
What is one of your favorite memories of Thanksgiving Day?

Two more serious questions:
What are you doing this week because you follow Jesus?
What would you like help with?

Monday Psalm 50:8-12 (NRSV)
Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you; your burnt offerings are continually before me.
I will not accept a bull from your house, or goats from your folds.
For every wild animal of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills.
I know all the birds of the air, and all that moves in the field is mine.
If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and all that is in it is mine.

Psalm 50 reminds us what many people forget: All creation belongs to God. Our lives and the possessions that we have ultimately belong to God, not us. We are managers and caretakers, not owners.

What would change if you were constantly aware that everything on earth belonged to God?

Tuesday Luke 15:25-30 (NRSV)
Religious leaders complained that Jesus was hanging out with people who weren’t welcome at their churches. As a result, Jesus told three stories – the story of the lost sheep (Luke 15:3-7), the story of the lost coin (Luke 15:8-10), and the story of the prodigal son and his older brother (Luke 15:11-31). In all three, there was rejoicing when the lost was found.

In the third story, when the prodigal son returned, his father ran to meet him, put his arms around him and kissed him, then restored him to his position as beloved son and started a celebration.

But not everybody was happy. Jesus says:

"Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. He replied, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.’ Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. But he answered his father, ‘Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!’

One of the themes Jesus addressed more than once was people’s response to God’s amazing generosity. Not everyone appreciates it. Jesus touched on this in his parable about workers being paid the same, whether they worked the whole day or just the last hour. (Matthew 20:1-16) In the parable we’re reading today, the brother is unhappy for two reasons:
1) he doesn’t like his brother’s return being celebrated (he may not even like his brother’s return) and

2) he is unhappy about what he himself has received, especially in comparison to his brother’s share.

When undeserving people are blessed by God, are you unhappy like the elder son (and religious leaders)? Or are you rejoicing, like the angels?

Wednesday Luke 15:31-32 (NRSV)
Then the father said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.’"

In Jesus’ story, the older son doesn’t realize what he has. First off, he doesn’t appreciate what he has been experiencing: the ongoing daily relationship with his father. But he also has possessions and opportunity that he didn’t realize were his: the whole estate belongs to him. As manager of it, he could use any part of it that he wants. He thinks he is working hard for his father, but he is really managing his own inheritance.

How much do you value your ongoing, daily relationship with God?
What would you do differently if you realized that God’s attitude to you was “all that is mine is yours”?

Thursday 1 Chronicles 16:8-12 (NRSV)
O give thanks to the LORD, call on his name, make known his deeds among the peoples.
Sing to him, sing praises to him, tell of all his wonderful works.
Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.
Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his presence continually.
Remember the wonderful works he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he uttered.

This song encourages us to make known God’s deeds and to tell of all God’s wonderful works.

What are you thankful for?
What have you seen God do in your life?
What deeds of God should you tell others about?

Friday Psalm 57:9-11 (NRSV)
I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations.
For your steadfast love is as high as the heavens; your faithfulness extends to the clouds.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens. Let your glory be over all the earth.

It was good to express thankfulness yesterday. But thanksgiving is not supposed to be a once a year event. Ideally we are always rejoicing. I Thessalonians 5:16-18 says “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

What are you thankful for today?

Saturday Revelation 4:9-11 (NRSV)
Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to the one who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall before the one who is seated on the throne and worship the one who lives forever and ever; they cast their crowns before the throne, singing, "You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created."

In John’s vision of the end of time and the kingdom of heaven, thanksgiving causes praise of God’s role as creator of all things.

What are you thankful for today?