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Eternal Friends

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 BY DAN KIEHL, Senior Pastor, Oakwood Presbyterian Church 

     In Luke 16, Jesus tells a story that will really make you scratch your head. He tells about a man who gets a “pink slip” from his wealthy boss because he had mismanaged funds and resources. Realizing that he only has a brief time before he would be thrown out, penniless, onto the street, he comes up with a devilishly ingenious plan. He would call in all those who owed money to his boss and offer to settle their bills at as much as a 50% discount. This way, when he lost his job, all his master’s former debtors would owe him big favors, which he could cash in whenever needed. End of story.

     What in the world is Jesus trying to teach us from this story? Jesus doesn’t hold this man up as an example to avoid; instead, much to our surprise, He tells us to be more like this cunning manager. Listen to our Lord’s application of His story: “…the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. I tell you, use your worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.” Jesus isn’t telling us to be underhanded or deceptive. He is saying that you should be investing our Master’s resources, our time, money, and effort, “to gain friends for yourselves.” And He is referring to a particular kind of friend, one who can welcome you “into eternal dwellings.”

     This is a corollary to an earlier principle that He taught: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth…But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven…For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19, 20). In the parable of the devious steward, Jesus illustrates how this principle applies to the relationships in our lives. We should be investing our earthly resources to make eternal relationships. For example, when you give money to missionaries, you are making it possible for more people to hear the Gospel and become, by faith, a part of your eternal family. When you make the sacrifices to teach a Sunday school class for children you are establishing and building eternal relationships. When you take the time to mentor someone who is new in his or her Christian faith, you bond with an eternal friend. The rewards for these kinds of investments multiply forever.

     So, this begs the question…how are your eternal investments doing? Many Christians gripe about not getting much out of their church. Could it be that you aren’t getting much of a return because you aren’t investing much in the first place? “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.” Give more of your time, money, and effort to strengthening and growing your church family, and you will be amazed to see how the Lord will multiply your meager resources. Lead a Bible study, share the Gospel with a friend, disciple a new believer, visit the nursing home or prison… There are many ways to put more into your church family and experience the everlasting rewards.

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Noah's Flood

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 ASK THE PASTOR BY DAN KIEHL, Senior Pastor, Oakwood Presbyterian Church

     Question: “Was the flood in the time of Noah a local event or was it a worldwide flood?”

     Answer: I believe that the flood in Noah's day was worldwide because that is the plain and obvious reading of the story in Scripture. Gen. 7:20, 21 says that "...the waters prevailed so mightily on the earth that all the high mountains under the whole heaven were covered. The waters prevailed above the mountains, covering them fifteen cubits deep. And all flesh died that moved on the earth..." If the rains took six weeks to cover the mountains of Ararat, and continued to cover them for 16 more weeks, and then for 10 more weeks you could see nothing but mountain peaks, and then it took another 21 weeks before Noah and the animals could come off the ark, it's not possible to reconcile all of that with a local flood, even a huge one. Also, if the flood was only local, then why didn't God just tell Noah to leave the area - he could have easily done so in the time it took for him to build the ark.

     The main objection that I've heard to a universal flood (from both Christian and secular sources) is the fact that today, there is not enough water in the earth's system to cover all the mountains. That is true, but it assumes that the atmosphere and topography of the earth today are relatively the same as they were before the flood. However, I think there are some indications in the story of the flood, that combined with scientific study and common sense, would indicate that the atmosphere and topography of the earth went through some radical and violent changes during the flood. For instance, most creation scientists believe that the oceans are considerably deeper and the mountains are considerably higher today than they were before God sent the flood. This would explain the depth problem and a lot of the geological formations we see in the world.

     From a Biblical interpretation standpoint, to interpret the flood as being local weakens one's interpretation of other passages in Scripture. Several other passages refer to the flood as having destroyed all humanity except Noah and his family, including Jesus' statement in Luke 17. In 2 Peter 3, Peter compares the judgment of the flood to the final judgment of the world by fire – "...the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment..." If the flood was local, what does that say about the Day of Judgment?

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