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And will not God bring about justice for His chosen ones, who cry out to Him day and night? Will He keep putting them off? I tell you, He will see that they get justice, and quickly.

~Luke 18:7-8

Lesson18-image001Materials Needed: Whiteboard or easel.

Notes to the Leader: This Lesson covers chapter 18 in the Gospel of Luke. It can be viewed as the What, Who, How, How Much and Why of Christ’s teachings. The study will cover several parables and contrast them against human characteristics to see how God responds in our lives. While your group reads and studies these verses in Luke, try to guide the discussion in such a way as to have each person match themselves against one of the characters. At the end, you can use this study to have each group member measure their spiritual walk and to help build Strategic Christian Plans for retirement. Think of it as the ultimate 401 K plan.

Introduction

This should be an open discussion with you, as leader, writing down what your group comes up with. The goal is to build a list and reach consensus that people spend a lot of time (or should spend time) planning for their retirement (meaning the latter years of their life).

How do people plan for their retirement?

Look forward to a full list of ideas.

  • IRA
  • 401 K Plan
  • Savings
  • Investing in stocks, bonds
  • Have a lot of kids and make sure they all become lawyers or doctors

How do we invest in our faith?

Again, look for a full list and creative ideas.

  • Church
  • Volunteering
  • Prioritizing time with our families
  • The Bible
  • Prayer
  • Fellowship with other believers

Section One: Praying for Justice

Have someone in your group read Luke 18:1-8

What value is there in persevering in prayer?

Note: Contrast God’s response to that of most people when their perseverance frequently becomes overbearing, pushy, aggressive, etc.

  • God has no limit to His patience. Jesus calls us to “call out day and night.” One may view the ongoing calls of unanswered prayer as foolish. However, Jesus points out that it is not foolishness but faithfulness that is being demonstrated by such behavior.
  • If your group is inexperienced with regard to the tenants of the Christian faith, then the next question may also be asked, ” What do you think the key elements of salvation that are addressed by perseverance?

What is one key element of our salvation?

  • We are saved by faith, not good works alone. One of the strongest demonstrations of faith we can give our Lord is to pray constantly and diligently, even for the unanswered prayers in our lives.
    Contrast the faith of the judge and the widow?
  • The judge neither feared God nor cared about people (v.2).
  • The widow, although most likely destitute, symbolized helplessness. She had nothing of value, no money, no position, no power, just one weapon.

Why did the judge finally waste his time with this widow?

  • Persistence, persistence, persistence.

Section Two: Prayer as an Appeal

Have someone in your group read Luke 18:9-14 with the idea that they listen for the differences between the two characters in this parable, the Pharisee and the Tax Collector.

How did the Pharisee pray to God? Compare this with the prayers of the Tax Collector.

  • The Pharisee did not pray to God. He prayed to himself. True prayer is always offered to God and to God alone.
  • The Tax Collector stood off in the distance, eyes downcast, and prayed with humility. He acknowledged his sinfulness.

Note: William Barclay states “(i) No man who is proud can pray; (ii) No man who despises his fellow men can pray; (ii) True prayer comes from setting our lives beside the life of God.”

How does William Barclay’s statement apply to our lives at our local church?

  • It will be the least of us who, in humility claim the greatest share of glory. If you believe this, then each and every person can be an active and contributing member of their church, no matter how limited the talents, how short the time, how feeble the bones, how weak the words, or how productive our efforts. Jesus calls each person to walk behind Him and let Him lead the way, not pushing Him along our own way.

Section Three: To Be Like Children

Have someone in your group read Luke 18:15-17 — The disciples did not want Jesus to bother spending His time with the children. They saw His time as valuable. Jesus had an other perspective. He said we must be like children.

Take time to build this list on the whiteboard or easel.

What are the attributes of a child that Jesus found so appealing?

  • A sense of wonder;
  • Trust;
  • Obedient;
  • Forgiving;
  • Dependent;
  • Openness;
  • joy in little things;
  • Vulnerability;
  • Humility;
  • Teachability;
  • Have the ability to play;
  • Simplicity.

Now go back and check off from the list you just built, the answers to the next question.

Of the childlike attributes that Jesus would like all children to retain into their adulthood, how many (which ones) are under attack by our society (the world)?

  • As I personally read the list above, I see the world teaching our children to be the opposites. If these attributes are so key to the Quality of the Kingdom (we are in it now, remember), then it is easy to see why and how Satan is attacking the world. Start with the children and drive out the childlike characteristics. If successful, Satan will have a world full of self-centered, striving, prideful people all seeking the worldly comforts.

Are these childlike characteristics necessary to live together as a Christian family?

  • It sure looks that way doesn’t it. This may be why there is so much strife in the Church today. We are acting like intellectually superior adults seeking the pleasures of this world through accommodation. Jesus just says, be children,
  • Keep the faith and feel the joy.

Section Four: Tough Choices

Have someone in your group read Luke 18:18-30

Why do you think Jesus asked the man to give all he had away to follow Him?

  • Jesus knew his heart. For us, therefore, we must speculate. However, it appears that this man was living in a selfish manner. He was rich, yet he gave nothing away. God was his comfort, and the real god he worshiped was his possessions.

Note: The eye of the needle is thought to refer to a small gate that sat beside the great gate in Jerusalem. One entering this small gate would have to dismount their camel and struggle through it. This meant that it was difficult, not impossible. Therefore, Scripture does not say that it is impossible for someone who is wealthy to gain salvation. It just says it is difficult.

Section Five: A Tough Road to Walk

Have someone in your group read Luke 18:31:34 This was the seventh time (at least that was recorded for us in scripture) that Jesus foretold of His pending death. Yet the disciples did not comprehend Jesus’ meaning.

What is it about human nature that makes it so difficult for the disciples to grasp the upcoming crucifixion?

  • The human mind has a way of listening only to what it wants to hear. There is a wishful thinking which believes that the unpleasant truth cannot really be true.
    How does this manifest itself in our everyday life? As a hint, what are some of the excuses you have heard about coming to church, the nature of our God, etc.?
  • If God is a loving god, He will not let all those people perish in eternal hell.
  • I am a good person. I don’t need organized religion. I spend time with my god when I am out on the golf course.
  • Our children don’t need to go to church. They are good kids and we trust them to make good choices in their lives.

What are the consequences of giving in to our wishful thinking?

  • We risk our eternal happiness for the pleasures of the here and now.

Section Six: A Plea to See Again

Have someone in your group read Luke 18:35-43 Again, there are two characters in the parable, a blind man and Jesus.

What can you learn about the character of each person?

The blind man was determined to come face to face with Jesus. Nothing would stop him. He refused to be silent and refused to be restrained.

  • For Jesus, actions took second place to words. When a human need existed, He made it His top priority.

How should we apply this information to our lives?

  • If we want a miracle, then our spirit must show it. A gentle, sentimental longing never really taps the full power of God. It takes passion, an intense desire from the deepest parts of the heart and we will not be disappointed.

Bible Truth Being Taugh

God is in control and asks for persistent faith from each of us.

Our Response

To learn to pray with courage, persistence, humility, and faith, counting on God to bring justice to the injustices in our lives.

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