A Good Story about a Bad Man

December 5, 2019 at 2:45 pm | Posted in Luke | 1 Comment
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While Jesus’s parable of the prodigal son, found in Luke 15, is one of the easier parables to understand in terms of spiritual truth, the parable which begins Luke 16 is one of the more difficult.

And he said also unto his disciples, There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods. And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward. Then the steward said within himself, What shall I do? for my lord taketh away from me the stewardship: I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed.

Luke 16:1-3

The attitude of the dishonest steward is the attitude of a thief: “What’s yours is mine, and I’ll take it.” Compare that attitude with the attitude of a selfish person: “What’s mine is mine, and I’ll keep it.” These both stand in contrast with the attitude of a faithful and wise steward: “What’s mine is God’s, and I’ll share it.”

But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:19

What is our greatest treasure? It’s Christ and His Gospel. Treasure, according to the Bible, is to be protected and invested.

But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts.

I Thessalonians 2:4

If we think of life as a sporting contest, Christians are supposed to be the “players,” not the “scorekeepers.”

I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses. So he called every one of his lord’s debtors unto him, and said unto the first, How much owest thou unto my lord? And he said, An hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty. Then said he to another, And how much owest thou? And he said, An hundred measures of wheat. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and write fourscore.

Luke 16:4-7

The point of this parable is not to justify the steward’s actions as righteous or moral or ethical. What he did was clearly dishonest and deceitful, despite the pragmatic result that he probably DID collect more of his boss’s debts with that method. From a worldly, common sense perspective, it was the “smart” thing to do.

And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light. And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.

Luke 16:8-9

Jesus was not encouraging fraud, dishonesty, or mismanagement. He was making an argument from the lesser to the greater. We can learn from both good AND bad examples. From this story of an unfaithful steward, we can learn to:
1. Take advantage of our opportunities
2. See money or material wealth as a tool
3. Make friends by reaching out to others

At the same time we can learn NOT to:
1. Waste our opportunities
2. Worship money or material wealth (Make money serve you; don’t serve it.)
3. Forget to be faithful to God and the opportunities we already have

He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.

Luke 16:10

Luke 16:10 is the first verse that my first daughter ever memorized. It is a good principle for children.

Prayerless Practical Pouting Prefers Possessive Purpose

November 18, 2019 at 3:59 pm | Posted in Luke | 2 Comments
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The Pharisees, who were the intended primary audience as Jesus taught the parable of the prodigal son, would have had a huge problem with His depictions of the father. They would not have wanted to think of the God the Father, who was clearly being symbolized by this earthly father, subjecting Himself to the ignominy of running, much less rewarding a disobedient son. This was where the older son entered the picture.

Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing.

Luke 15:25

We may surmise that ever since his younger brother had left home, the older son had been doing twice the work, which may explain why Jesus included the detail that he was “in the field,” and, to his credit, he was in this sense a “good son.” He worked hard and obeyed his father with an outward obedience.

And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant. And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound.

Luke 15:26-27

There was no sign of relief on the part of the older son that his little brother was alive and safe, much less any joy.

And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him.

Luke 15:28

He was angry and pouting, and thereby serves as a reminder to us to beware of being angry about someone else’s undeserved blessings.

Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.

Romans 12:9

The older son was a faker, a hypocrite. He acted like a good son, but was really serving his father for what was in it for himself.

Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;

Romans 12:10

The older son didn’t prefer his younger brother over himself. He demanded recognition for being “good” in comparison.

Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;

Romans 12:11

Being industrious and passionate are both good things, but only when employed in service to the Lord.

Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;

Romans 12:12

It seems very unikely that the older son had been praying for his brother, because he wasn’t at all happy to have him back.

Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.

Romans 12:13

The father was given to hospitality, but the older son was not.

Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.

Romans 12:14-15

And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends:

Luke 15:29

Vain religion or legalism often masquerades as practicality and puts a damp cloth on rejoicing.

But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.

Luke 15:30

The older brother referred to his younger brother as “thy son,” rather than “my brother,” when speaking to the father. He was jealous of his father’s favoritism and material possessions, but not over his father’s affections. When you truly love another person, you are happy about events or things that make him happy.

And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.

Luke 15:31

Jesus did a masterful job of exposing the ulterior motives of each character in the story. The father’s purpose was to care for his sons. The younger son’s purpose had been to get away from his father. The older son’s purpose was to use his father for selfish reasons.

It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.

Luke 15:32

That’s where our knowledge of the story ends. We are not told what happened next. Did the older son come into the party? Did the younger son wander again after he got full? Did either of them learn his lesson? The father wasn’t interested in that. He wanted to have a party – to rejoice. He wanted his youngest son to feel welcome and he wanted his oldest son to be gracious.

Based on the Pharisees’ behavior after this, they either didn’t get it, or it just made them madder. How will you and I act, knowing that we were destitute in the far country – drinking down iniquity like water and eating garbage like a pig – but our Heavenly Father loved us enough to run to us, cover us with love, and give us authority?

A (Perhaps) Parabolic Prodigal’s Preferential Proximate Predicament Produces Patient Prosperous Passionate Persistent Protective Paternal Pardon

October 28, 2019 at 2:36 pm | Posted in Luke | 4 Comments
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Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it? And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost.

Luke 15:8-9

In the previous parable, about the lost sheep, the sheep was foolishly wandering away, but the coin did absolutely nothing to lose itself. This lady losing a piece of silver would be like a person with a thousand dollars losing $100. It’s only a small percentage, but it’s still a lot of money. If you lost it, you would rejoice when you found it.

The parable about the lost sheep highlights the Son. The parable about the lost coin highlights the Holy Spirit. The story about the prodigal son highlights the Father. Lost sheep and lost coins are out of place. People who are out of God’s will (especially lost sinners) are “disjointed,” they are out of place and not considered “useful” as long as they remain lost. They are also in danger.

The “parable” of the prodigal son may be a made-up story, as most of the parables of Jesus are thought to be, but the stories about the sheep and the coins are specifically called parables (Luke 15:3), whereas the one about the prodigal son starts off with:

And he said, A certain man had two sons:

Luke 15:11

Jesus may have taken the account of an actual event and used it for a spiritual lesson.

And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living.

Luke 15:12 (emphasis added)

But he shall acknowledge the son of the hated for the firstborn, by giving him a double portion of all that he hath: for he is the beginning of his strength; the right of the firstborn is his.

Deuteronomy 21:17

Under the Old Testament system an older son got two thirds and younger son one third, but this is talking about inheritance rights, and inheritance rights aren’t triggered until the father dies, so the younger son in Jesus’s story wanted the portion of the goods that would “falleth” to him. He was tired of waiting for his father to die. He didn’t want to be around him. He didn’t want to live with him. He didn’t want to work for him. He just wanted his money. In essence, he wished his father was dead. The younger son’s preference was to live without the father’s presence.

As Christians, let us never feel oppressed by our Father’s presence. When we deal with lost people, remember that they have no desire for God’s presence. We often hear of people “seeking God,” but, apart from Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit, they are seeking God the way bank robbers seek cops.

In the story of the prodigal son the father divided unto THEM his living. He didn’t argue and he didn’t plead. He just did it, but we can imagine that there was much drama before this day. We find out later on this was a loving father, and it did not appear that the son was planning on ever coming back.

And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.

Luke 15:13

How predictably heart-breaking. As soon as he could pack up his stuff and cash his dad’s check, he headed straight for the far country. He didn’t want his father’s presence, and, in fact, he didn’t even want his father’s proximity. As Christians, we must never stop drawing near to God.

For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.

Hebrews 7:19

Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

Hebrews 10:22

Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.

James 4:8

Drawing close to God involves cleansing, but lost people have no way to get clean apart from Christ.

The father divided to the younger son his “living” – his bios – the things necessary for life, and the son soon started selling those things to support a depraved type of “living” – zao – a vain “lifestyle.”

So, here’s the picture of the prodigal lifestyle. First, you have enough cash for “riotous living.” You don’t think about earning, much less saving. You spend, and you party, and you make tons of fake friends. Then you use it all up, and you start to lose your furniture, your car, your clothes, even your home. Then it’s not a question of whether you should work – it’s how are you going to eat? To make things worse, in the case of the prodigal son, it appears that the economy crashed while he was in this condition. Swayed by his own selfish preference, and not wanting his father’s presence or proximity, he found himself in quite a predicament.

And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.

Luke 15:14

He had no more friends, no more resources, no more family, no resume’, and no credit. We might expect the father to come to his rescue at this point, but he didn’t. By withholding material provision the father was actually providing somthing better: the opportunity for transformation through brokenness. He was waiting for the son to come back to him.

And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.

Luke 15:15

This was an especially terrible job for a Jewish man, for whom swine were considered not only physically, but religiously, unclean.

And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.

Luke 15:16

Our Heavenly Father knows exactly how bad things have to get for his children before they are forced to face reality and/or learn their lesson.

And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!

Luke 15:17

Having seen an illustration of the Father’s patience, we now see His prosperity. Even when we squander His resources, God’s supply never runs out – or even runs low. The first things the younger son thought of when he came to his senses were the father’s goodness (he fed his servants well) and the father’s greatness. God is good – willing to be gracious – and great. He has enough grace to spare for the worst sinner. We can’t out-sin God’s grace.

Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?

Romans 2:4

I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee,

Luke 15:18

Sinners always sin against someone, but first and foremost sin is against God.

And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.

Luke 15:19

None of us are “worthy” to be called God’s children, and we can’t work our way into his favor.

And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.

Luke 15:20

We thank God for His patience and prosperity, but we must not forget His persistence. The prodigal son’s father was watching and waiting. As an earthly father, he was hoping, but our Heavenly Father KNOWS. We also see an illustration of His passion, as the father in the story RAN, no longer waiting. The simple act of a wayway son coming home filled him with joy.

If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them: Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; [he is] a glutton, and a drunkard. And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.

Deuteronomy 21:18-21

The Father’s protection from the penalties of the Law may be another facet to the story. Did the prodigal son’s father run and embrace the son to keep him from being stoned? If so, his protection was met with the son’s proposal:

And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.

Luke 15:21

But here he was interrupted by the father’s pronouncement:

But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.

Luke 15:22-24

The father’s response were the gifts of imputed righteousnesss (the best robe placed on the son), ordained authority (a ring placed on his hand), freedom (shoes placed on his feet), temporal joy (a command to feast), and everlasting joy (a recognition of figurative resurrection, “was dead and is alive again).

longing for God

The Joy of Rescuing Lost Sheep

October 14, 2019 at 2:47 pm | Posted in Luke | 3 Comments
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Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost. He came to this world on a mission, and He has commanded us to be part of this mission, alhtough Jesus is really the one who does the seeking and the saving, and He only seeks and saves that which is “lost.” People need to realize they’re lost in order to realize they need to be found.

Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.

Luke 15:1-2

“Sinners and publicans” are classified differently from “Pharisees and scribes” not because they are different in substance, but because they are different in attitude. One group recognizes its condition: lost. The other does not think of itself as lost. Those of us who frequently listen to orthodox Christian sermons and Bible lessons are used to hearing that Jesus is willing to save even the most notorious sinners, but sometimes we forget this wonderful truth: Jesus rejoices when He finds and saves what was lost!

And he spake this parable unto them, saying, What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.

Luke 15:3-6

As human beings we are more like sheep than we at first might want to admit. We are helpless, lacking wisdom, prone to wander, prone to separate from others, prone to get into trouble. In Bible times a faithful shepherd would leave a flock of sheep to search for one lost sheep because it cost the shepherd to lose one AND because he loved his sheep. Jesus has paid a high price for His sheep, but He loves them also.

I hope you know the joy of what it means to be saved, but have you ever thought about the joy that Jesus experiences when He saves a lost sinner?

I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.

Luke 15:7

There may be a party in Heaven when ONE lost sinner is found by his or her Savior.

 

The Sabbath, Sickness, and Self-Serving Status

September 25, 2019 at 10:18 am | Posted in Luke | 3 Comments
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On several occassions Jesus performed some good deed on the Sabbath in a way that offended the Pharisees:
1. He cast out a demon and healed someone from a fever.
2. He plucked wheat and healed a man with a paralyzed hand.
3. He cast a demon out of a crippled woman.
4. He healed a lame man.
5. He healed a man who had been blind from birth.

Jesus was not, on these occasions, engaged in commerce. He was not making a profit, nor skipping church to play softball. He was healing sick people. Even the Pharisees would rescue their farm animals on the Sabbath. We have to be careful not to treat our pets better than people.

And he put forth a parable to those which were bidden, when he marked how they chose out the chief rooms; saying unto them, When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him;

Luke 14:7-8

Following Jesus is not about getting recognition or status, and seeking status or recognition under the false pretense of serving Jesus is likely to end in humiliation.

And he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room. But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee.

Luke 14:9-10

Following Jesus is about serving others, and, even though it can result in recognition and even honor, self-seeking is antithetcal to worship.

For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

Luke 14:11

When Kingdoms Collide

September 11, 2019 at 11:02 am | Posted in Luke | 2 Comments
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There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.

Luke 13:1-5

People like to ask why bad things happen to good people, or why innoncent people suffer, but the only time a truly good, innocent, and sinless person ever suffered was when Jesus Christ willingly suffered and lay down His life for the sins of His people.

He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none.

Luke 13:6

This fig tree wasn’t doing what a fig tree is supposed to do: it wasn’t bearing fruit.

Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?

Luke 13:7

Three years is a long time for a mature fig tree to go with no fruit. Its owner had been pretty patient.

And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it:

Luke 13:8

The vinedresser proposed giving it another chance, with the idea that growth could be stimulated with manure. Sometimes it takes messy circumstances to stimulate growth and the production of fruit.

And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.

Luke 13:9

The Lord is patient, but He does not abide fruitlessness forever.

And he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself.

Luke 13:10-11

Here was a woman (indicative of Luke’s typical interest in both women and illness) who had a condition which is called “a spirit of infirmity.”

And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity. And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.

Luke 13:12-13

For the first time in 18 years this woman was able to stand up straight, walk properly, lift her arms, and look people in the eye. She glorified God, and imagine how happy the people in the synagogue must have been… but not the leader.

And the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because that Jesus had healed on the sabbath day, and said unto the people, There are six days in which men ought to work: in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the sabbath day.

Luke 13:14

He was angry because he thought Jesus had made him look bad, challenged his authority, and questioned his teachings concerning the Sabbath.

The Lord then answered him, and said, Thou hypocrite, doth not each one of you on the sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering?

Luke 13:15

Jesus accused him of loving his animals more than people. The Sabbath was supposed to be a blessing, not a burden.

And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day?

Luke 13:16

The attitude of the religious leaders – even supposing that they HAD the power to heal the woman – would have been, “Wait, let’s not heal her on the Lord’s special day. Let her keep suffering so that it doesn’t interfere with our rule-keeping.”

And when he had said these things, all his adversaries were ashamed: and all the people rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by him.

Luke 13:17

No one could deny that what Jesus did was right. We can see this theme running through the end of Luke 12 and into 13: the idea of urgency; the need to discern the times; the motivation to get busy advancing the Kingdom. Disasters and suffering remind us to repent. Like a fig tree, we need to be bearing fruit before we are cut down. When God intervenes to stop suffering we should rejoice, not nit-pick. The people who look like they’re in charge of the Kingdom have corrupted it.

Then said he, Unto what is the kingdom of God like? and whereunto shall I resemble it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and cast into his garden; and it grew, and waxed a great tree; and the fowls of the air lodged in the branches of it.

Luke 13:18-19

The Devil has his agents hiding in places where the Kingdom of God is ministering in this world.

And again he said, Whereunto shall I liken the kingdom of God? It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.

Luke 13:20-21

This world’s kingdom tries to mix with the Kingdom of God, so we have to be diligent and work hard. We must stay on the narrow way and not quit.

Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.

Luke 13:23-24

Fight hard to know God and make Him known, and don’t let false religion or laziness or stress get in your way.

How to Defeat Anxiety

August 21, 2019 at 12:11 pm | Posted in Luke | 1 Comment
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Fear is related to anxiety, and specifically the worrying that goes hand in hand with anxiety. Contentment is the remedy for anxiety. Here are some methods for defeating anxiety:

1. Recognize that God knows your circumstances.

And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on. The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment. Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls? And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit? If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest? Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith?

Luke 12:22-28

2. Love God and love people.

And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you. Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Luke 12:29-34

Love people and not things. Use things, but do not love things. If you love people, you will use things. If you love things, you will use people.

3. Shift your worry to watchfulness.

And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through. Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.

Luke 12:39-40

It’s easier to be busy and productive when we believe there is a limited time to work.

4. Apply the Bible to what you see around you.

Ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky and of the earth; but how is it that ye do not discern this time?

Luke 12:56

Measure every experience and circumstance against God’s Word. Do not “let go and let God.” Hold fast to what you believe and wrestle (respectfully) with God.

Luke 13 deals with theodicy. Theodicy refers to the problem of evil. Evil is in the world because of sin, but God is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and omnibenevolent. He knows about all evil. Wherever suffering is taking place, He is there. He has the power to stop suffering. He is always good. So, here’s how theodicy is usually worded: If God is all good, why is there suffering in the world? There is suffering in the world because people are sinful, but if God is all good AND all powerful, why doesn’t He stop the suffering? The mistake here is that the wrong question is being asked. The question is not, if God is all good and all powerful, why is there suffering? The question is, why does a good God Who is all powerful allow anything good to happen to anyone at all?

There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.

Luke 13:1

Maybe some secret Roman agents had done this, or maybe it was just a sneak attack slaughter – an unprovoked terrorist attack, an incident of sheer evil.

And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.

Luke 13:2-3

The question was not why God allowed the Romans to massacre the Gallileans; it was why hasn’t He allowed them to massacre you?

Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.

Luke 13:4-5

When something evil happens, God allows it in part to remind people of the urgency of the need for repentance.

Misplaced Fear

July 29, 2019 at 4:23 pm | Posted in Luke | 1 Comment
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In the mean time, when there were gathered together an innumerable multitude of people, insomuch that they trode one upon another, he began to say unto his disciples first of all, Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.

Luke 12:1

Popularity can be as dangerous as ostracism. As Christians, we must beware of becoming people-pleasers.

For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known. Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops. And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.

Luke 12:2-4

The likelihood of death is not ususally the motivation for freedom from fear, but Jesus recognized that fear of God is the beginning of true wisdom.

But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.

Luke 12:5

Having dealt with the hypocrites, Jesus warned His disciples not to become hypocrites themselves. Hypocrisy is caused by fear of man.

The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.

Proverbs 29:25

Fear of God causes honesty.

And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost it shall not be forgiven.

Luke 12:10

The Jewish religious leaders had blasphemed the Father when they rejectd the witness of His prophet, John the Baptist. They had blasphemed the Son (Jesus). After Jesus’s Ascension they would blaspheme the Holy Spirit as they stoned Stephen.

Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it. When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, And cast [him] out of the city, and stoned [him]: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul. And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.

Acts 7:52-59

And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.

Luke 12:15

Having warned the disciples about misplaced fear causing hypocrisy, Jesus went on to warn them that such fear also causes covetousness.

And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully:

Luke 12:16

When Jesus speaks about a “rich man” we would not be wise to limit our thinking to those who live in mansions and ride in limousines. If we have indoor plumbing and an actual bed, or if we find ourselves having a tough time trusting God when we only have 3G reception, rather that 4G, on our phones, then the description of “rich man” covers you and me.

And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods.

Luke 12:17-18

Have you noticed a proliferation of rented storage units in your neighborhood lately?

And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.

Luke 12:19

This is a dangersous way of preaching to your own soul: “Soul, you don’t have to be afraid any more. Even if God doesn’t provide, we’ve provided for ourselves.”

But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.

Luke 12:20-21

Recognizing that people all over the world – and people living right next to us! – need to hear the Gospel, we must remember that there will be a day of accounting (which may arrive much sooner than we think) when we will face God to answer for how we’ve invested the earthly and material blessings and treasures He’s entrusted to our care. Instead of being “rich toward the world,” be “rich toward God.” Be grateful and be anxious to share.

Doubling Down on the Hypocrites

July 15, 2019 at 2:30 pm | Posted in Biblical Eyesight, Luke | 4 Comments
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No man, when he hath lighted a candle, putteth it in a secret place, neither under a bushel, but on a candlestick, that they which come in may see the light.

Luke 11:33

Jesus is the Light for Christians. He is the only thing that illuminates spiritual darkness. If you are going to have an impact for the Kingdom, you are going to have to bring out Jesus and shine Him into blinded minds.

The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness.

Luke 11:34

The person with double vision – speaking from experience – does not see twice as much. If your eye be “double” then your “light” becomes darkness. Double-sightedness = spiritual blindness. Double-mindedness = instability.

A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

James 1:8

Double-heartedness = idolatry.

Teach me thy way, O LORD; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name.

Psalm 86:11

Here are some Biblical examples of people with “double vision” who wound up in the dark:

Samson – his name meant “Son of the Sun,” but he liked to look at things he shouldn’t look at and had divided affections between the Lord and his own lusts, and he wound up blind, pushing a mill stone.

Lot – he was double-minded. He believed in God but wanted to live in the world. He ended up in a cave, in the dark, drunk, committing incest with his daughters.

Saul – he had a divided heart. He wanted to be the king but did not want God to be the King over him. He wound up in spiritual darkness, committing suicide on the battlefield.

And as he spake, a certain Pharisee besought him to dine with him: and he went in, and sat down to meat.

Luke 11:37

Jesus would spend time with sinners, and and He was often harsh and condemning toward the religious leaders (Pharisees, scribes, and lawyers) because they would criticize Him and say, “Why are you hanging out with sinners? It makes you seem like a sinner, too.” This would be like asking a doctor why he’s always so sick since he’s always hanging out at hospitals, but we need to remember that Jesus loved the Pharisees and the religious hypocrites, too, and He did spend time with them also. He loves sinners, including “religious” sinners, but He does not brook their hypocrisy.

And when the Pharisee saw it, he marvelled that he had not first washed before dinner.

Luke 11:38

We do not know if this was a conscious action on the part of Jesus, designed to provoke a reaction, but it did cause a reaction for sure. Jesus responded with some very harsh rebukes.

And the Lord said unto him, Now do ye Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and the platter; but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness. Ye fools, did not he that made that which is without make that which is within also?

Luke 11:39-40

Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

Matthew 5:21-22

How could Jesus call someone a fool and not sin, when, for us, such name-calling is tantamount to breaking the Sixth Commandment? The reason is that when when we get mad enough to call somebody a fool, or a jerk, or an idiot, we are committing the sin of unrighteous anger usually, and and hypocrisy always, but when Jesus did so in this instance He was pronouncing prophetic “woes,” or curses, in keeping with His Divine calling. And He was not done with the name-calling either:

But woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.

Luke 11:42

They tithed out of even their spice racks, but they didn’t truly love God or His people, and they judged with their own judgments while ignoring God’s judgments.

Woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye love the uppermost seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets.

Luke 11:43

They paid for the best seats, and they wanted to be noticed and seen, because they were seeking worship for themselves insted of for God.

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are as graves which appear not, and the men that walk over them are not aware of them.

Luke 11:44

The scribes were included in this third woe, which was especially insulting because they would go to great lengths to mark out graves and keep away from the defilement of dead bodies.

Then answered one of the lawyers, and said unto him, Master, thus saying thou reproachest us also.

Luke 11:45

One of the lawyers who heard these woes suddenly became passively-aggressively “offended,” and, in doing so, bit off more than he could chew:

And he said, Woe unto you also, ye lawyers! for ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers.

Luke 11:46

Jesus accused them of wanting to tell everyone else how to live, but not wanting to make it easier for anyone else to live right.

Woe unto you! for ye build the sepulchres of the prophets, and your fathers killed them.

Luke 11:47

They were trying to rewrite history so that they could repeat it with impunity.

Truly ye bear witness that ye allow the deeds of your fathers: for they indeed killed them, and ye build their sepulchres. Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they shall slay and persecute: That the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation; From the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, which perished between the altar and the temple: verily I say unto you, It shall be required of this generation. Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered.

Luke 11:48-52

They were fake teachers, adding to burdens instead of easing burdens. The scribes and Pharisees responded with anger.

And as he said these things unto them, the scribes and the Pharisees began to urge him vehemently, and to provoke him to speak of many things: Laying wait for him, and seeking to catch something out of his mouth, that they might accuse him.

Luke 11:53-54

They tried to “catch” the Words coming out of His mouth. They went hunting with traps.

 

And Sometimes Y

June 10, 2019 at 1:17 pm | Posted in Luke | Leave a comment
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In elementary English, children learn that the vowels are A, E, I, O, U… “and sometimes Y.” In a previous lesson I looked at the “vowels of hell.” In addition to the devil’s “kingdom” being a.ctual, e.nergetic, i.ntelligent, o.rganized, and u.nited, I will now add that it is “sometimes y.oked.”

Yoked means attached. The kingdom of Satan is sometimes attached to a lost person (possession), or, as pointed out by Jesus, in some cases it is attached to a “movement.”

And when the people were gathered thick together, he began to say, This is an evil generation: they seek a sign; and there shall no sign be given it, but the sign of Jonas the prophet.

Luke 11:29

The sign of Jonah was that he was swallowed by a fish or a whale, and vomited up on dry land. When he preached, people repented. Jesus told the crowd that their generation was evil because they were seeking signs when the greater-than-Jonah was right there in front of them!

For as Jonas was a sign unto the Ninevites, so shall also the Son of man be to this generation.

Luke 11:30

Jonah was “buried” and “resurrected,” in a sense, but Jesus is greater. He actually died and actually come back to life.

The men of Nineve shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.

Luke 11:32

There is a “movement” today which is sometimes (“sometimes Y”) yoked with satanic influence. This movement says that you don’t need to accept that Jesus is real unless you are seeing signs and wonders. Those of us who recognize this error in the charismatic and the “Word Faith” prosperity movement have to be careful, too, though, that we don’t fall prey to Satan’s influence in more subtle ways:
-“I lost my job, so what’s the point of continuing to go to church?”
-“I’ll start praying, but I better see some results.”

Let’s not be part of what Jesus called a “wicked” generation.

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