The Laborers in the Vinyard

The Laborers in the Vineyard  –  January 7th , 2018 

Grace Communion Orlando                     Steve Schantz

Scripture reading:  Matt 20:1 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. When he went out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace; and he said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went.

Throughout his ministry, Jesus used parables to convey deep truths about the Kingdom of God, God’s character and nature, and his love and understanding of people created in His image. While His stories were simple, they reveal a richness and depth of meaning that escaped many listeners. Yet each parable says something eternity-revealing and they spur us into action.   In our world that is shaped by competition and earning, Jesus’ parables of grace seem to be upside down, bizarre, and other-worldly. Often the grace of God is celebrated by those who are vulnerable without it, and at the same time it frustrates those who suggest that they can make it all on their own. So let’s listen and learn, continuing from verse 5 to the end of the parable.

Matt 20:5 When he went out again about noon and about three o’clock, he did the same. And about five o’clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, ‘Why are you standing here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard.’ When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.’ When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage.  10 Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage.  11 And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, 12 saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ 13 But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? 14 Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. 15 Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ 16 So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”  (NRSV)

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Sermon Series: UnkNOTed – Untying the knots of life through the NOTS of Christ! Judge Not!

       Sermon Series: UnkNOTed – Untying the knots of life through the NOTS of Christ! 

[Fear Not, Worry Not, Boast Not, Judge Not, Ashamed Not]

“Judge Not”

Scripture Reading: Matt 7:For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.  

In three words which seem rather blunt and absolute Jesus directs his followers, “Do not judge” (Matt. 7:1). Actually, that is only part of what he said because as we read the rest of verse 1 He introduces a relational exchange into this command, “…or you to will be judged.”

 

Does Jesus mean that we should never judge whether the actions of other people are good or evil? Whether their words are true or false? Let’s take a second look at this and other scriptures which deal not only with the act of judging but also the attitude with which we must judge.

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“UnkNOTed – Untying the knots of life through the NOTS of Christ!” Worry Not!

“UnkNOTed – Untying the knots of life through the NOTS of Christ!”

Worry!

Over the next 5 weeks we will tackle some of the biggest knots that bind us from the growth, freedom, and joy which God intends we experience heading into the New Year.  Worry Not, Fear Not, Boast Not, Judge Not, Ashamed Not…

Scripture Reading:   Matt 6: 25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?

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UnkNOTed – Untying the knots of life through the NOTS of Christ! – “Fear Not”

 UnkNOTed – Untying the knots of life through the NOTS of Christ! – “Fear Not”

Matt 14:26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. 27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”                                                                                                                                                         

  “If you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much space.”    Who would make a statement like that?   (Author Stephen Hunt)  There have always been thrill seekers, but Frank Farley, past president of the American Psychological Association has spent 30 years researching this kind of person.  He labels them as type “T” personality – for Thrill seeking. Type T personalities require an increased level of stimulation to maintain their energy levels. Type “T” people are drawn to high risk situations… easily bored, love extreme sports, mountain climbing, para-sailing, sky jumping, space jumping.  (Farley writes a blog, “The People’s Professor”, for Psychology Today.)

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Jesus As a Kid

Jesus as a Kid – June 25th, 2016

Pastor Steve Schantz  

bible-1089968_1920Like the Holy Land experience in Orlando, summer Vacation Bible School programs sometimes offer children a Home Town Nazareth experience. This often includes costumes and characters from 1st century Galilee, sometimes a taste of the native foods Jesus would have grown up eating – like olives, dates, lentil soups, grapes, flat bread, yogurts and cheeses…   They might also learn about the places he traveled and the people he met and perhaps even a few animals to pet which are native to middle-Eastern culture. (Many are similar to some of our animals native to Florida!- Goats, Sheep, Lama, horses)   All of this is aimed at making the person and life of Christ real in the minds and hearts of the next generation. Continue reading “Jesus As a Kid”

Lost & Found

Lost & Found

by Pastor Steve Schantz

Luke 15:8-9

The first two verses of Luke chapter 15 set the stage for the way Jesus responds in a trilogy of parables that follow: the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost or prodigal Son.

Through the use of parables, Jesus told simple stories from ordinary experiences to help reveal truths about the nature and purpose of God’s Kingdom which He Himself was initiating. Parables have been described as earthly stories carrying a heavenly meaning. So let’s look at the occasion which prompted Jesus response.

Luke 15:1 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” (NIV)

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Hope Builders & Truth Tellers

Hope Builders & Truth Tellers

by Pastor Steve Schantz

 Hope-Builders… Building Leaders

Neh 6:14 – 7  

     Good afternoon to each of you! I hope you had an enjoyable and safe Independence Day wherever you celebrated. Welcome to the weekly chapter meeting of the Grace Communion Orlando’s Hope- Builders support group! In our text in Nehemiah, we have learned that certain co-opted leaders posing as Nehemiah’s colleagues were really set on tripping him up, subverting his God given mission, and harming him.  Though their methods were crafty and deceptive, they failed to take into account the kind of man Nehemiah was: A man on a mission who depended on God for his strength through prayer. As the last brick in the rebuilt wall was set in place, and all the refurbished gates hung on new hinges, the very schemes intended to bring Nehemiah down resounded to God’s glory throughout the region! Please join me in reading from your own Bibles Nehemiah chapter 6, verses 15-16.

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Seeing With Your Good Eye

Seeing With Your Good Eye

by Pastor Steve Schantz    

   Good afternoon to each of you! Last Sunday in week two of this God Provides series, we saw from Jeremiah’s account how God blesses His people even through tough circumstances as He provides for us to prosper where we are planted. During each of these 6 weeks we are discovering how faithful people learn to trust God to provide. As we trust Him more, God enables us to see what matters most in life, and our choices reflect lasting values and reap eternal rewards. This week’s lesson has us journeying with Abram as he relies on God’s promises and makes decisions which bless and prefer others. In complement to this series, please turn with me this morning to Matthew’s gospel account, chapter 6, beginning in verse 19, as we see how Jesus challenges his followers to change the way they look at life. There is an intended slight variation in word choice from the NKJV as we read.

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