Persistent Pleas, Powerful Prayers, a Proud Pharisee, and a Penitent Publican

February 10, 2020 at 3:23 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Luke Chapter 18 starts of with the parable that is sometimes called the parable of the unjust judge or the parable of the persistent widow. The primary lesson of this parable is: keep praying; don’t quit.

And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?

Luke 18:1-8

There are four characters in the story: the judge, God, the widow, and her adversary. Obviously setting aside any comparisons between ourselves and God, with which of the remaining three characters do you identify? The judge did not fear God, which is a huge problem for any human being. Fear of God is the solution to overcoming fear of man. The fear of man is a snare, but the fear of God is the beginning of both knowledge and wisdom. This was a judge who forgot that he himself would be judged AND he didn’t care about helping others. Don’t care about people so much that you disregard God, but don’t think that God wants you to disregard people.

Widows were particularly vulnerable in the culture where the parable is set. Both because of their gender and the lack of a male protector, they were often the victims of injustice. Somebody had done her an injustice and she had no recourse, except for one thing: persistence. She would not leave the judge alone. Do you identify with the widow? Do you feel powerless because of a lack of money and influence? If so, remember that you can still be pesistent. This lady was waiting for the judge every time he showed his face, and she would plead her case continaully.

Perhaps you are like the adversary in the parable. Have you taken advantage of someone who was easy to take advantage of? I hope not, but, if so, remember that God often takes up the cause of those who seem helpless, and often punishes those who mistreat the poor.

If even an unjust judge will be moved by continual petitions, how MUCH MORE will our loving Heavenly Father be moved by our persistence in prayer?

The second parable in Luke 18 deals with the prayers of two distinct types of people.

And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:

Luke 18:9

The parable of the praying Pharisee and the praying publican is intended to show the danger of self-righteousness.

Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.

Luke 18:10

One man appeard outwardly religious and one man was openly sinful, and, while we know something of Jesus’s teachings and ministry and can guess who is going to be commended by Jesus and who is going to be condemned, the lesson would have been very controversial and surprising to Jesus’s audience when He orginally taught it.

The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.

Luke 18:11

The Pharisee stood to pray, and there is nothing inherently wrong with standing while we pray if we are standing for the right reasons. Posture is not as important as piety when it comes to prayer. The verse says that he “prayed thus with himself,” and this is perhaps intentionally worded to make it seem like he’s somewhat unconsciously praying TO himself and addressing himself as God. The Pharisee’s prayer amounted to arrogance and contempt disguised as gratitude. He even workded in an insult to the person praying next to him.

I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.

Luke 18:12

The Pharisee clearly considered himself even more religious than he was requrired to be, and was very impressed with himself.

And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.

Luke 18:13

Both the Pharisee and the publican were in the vicinity of the Temple, but one of them strode arrogantly right up, and one meekly stood far off.

I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

Luke 18:14

Self-righteousness is just as much a sin as the sins of which the Pharisee accused others. Furthermore, it is an even greater bar to justification. God gives grace to, and justifies, the humble. He resists the proud and self-righteous. If we persist in trying to justify ourselves, then God will not justify us.

Overlooking the Kingdom

January 27, 2020 at 1:44 pm | Posted in Luke | Leave a comment
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And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

Luke 17:20-21

Jesus answered the Pharisees’ question, but He reserved the details for the Disciples. People were especially expectant for a deliverer around the time of Passover. Moses was the deliverer at the first Passover. John the Baptist showed some promise but he had ultimately not panned out as the deliverer. Jesus seemed like a strong possibility, and He was headed to Jerusalem! The Pharisees had been listening to Jesus for about three years and they wanted to know when the Kingdom of God would appear! How sad that they were so opposed or obtuse concerning Who Jesus was. They were like patrons walking into a serve-yourself buffet restaurant, hungry, but just sitting down and waiting for a waiter to bring food.

And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation:

Luke 17:20 (emphasis added)

The Pharisees’ “observation” amounted to hiding and looking, following secretly, and faithless testing. They acted like James Bond, when any run-of-the-mill investigator could have told them Who Jesus was in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

Luke 17:21

The Kingdom was “within” their midst, but it did not penetrate the hearts of the Pharisees. The Deliverer was not some obscure person hiding in a monastery somewhere. He was the one Who had been healing blind people, raising the dead, curing lepers, saying, “I’m the One.

Christians should study future prophecy, but do not let the study of prophecy overshadow ACTIVITY. Expect the coming of the Lord Jesus not by waiting and watching idly, but by staying busy until He comes back.

Foresight

January 13, 2020 at 4:25 pm | Posted in Biblical Eyesight, Luke | Leave a comment
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And he said unto the disciples, The days will come, when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and ye shall not see it. And they shall say to you, See here; or, see there: go not after them, nor follow them. For as the lightning, that lighteneth out of the one part under heaven, shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in his day. But first must he suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation. And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Luk 17:30 Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed. In that day, he which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back. Remember Lot’s wife. Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.

Luke 17:22-33

It is easy to get caught up in the affairs of everyday life – as in the days of Noah. We pass our time in a series of events, parties, weddings, celebrations, work, school, church activities… which are all good – but which tend to distract us from thinking about the future, when we know a day of judgment is coming. Foresight doesn’t ignore the present, and it doesn’t only look AHEAD to the future. Mainly, it looks UP to the God who will bring to pass His Word in the future.

It is also easy to get caught up in the past – like Lot’s wife. When things are not going all that great you may remember your pre-Christian days in a false light. You may remember them as days of carefree partying when you were not burdened with concern about weighty, eternal matters like the judgment of God – but that is a false memory. Your life wasn’t given to you to keep. It was given to you to be GIVEN BACK to God. The way – the ONLY REAL WAY – to control your life is to keep giving it to God. The second my life displeases God, He is well within His rights to take it from me. Enjoy life now, but live with the future and eternity in mind.

Finality, Forgiveness, Faithfulness, and Forgetfulness

January 2, 2020 at 11:36 am | Posted in Luke | 3 Comments
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And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores,

Luke 16:20

The account of the rich man and the beggar, Lazarus, is often described as a parable, although it is entirely possible – and even likely, given the details – that it is a true story.

And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.

Luke 16:21

These were two very diffent people: one on top of the world, and one at the bottom.

And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;

Luke 16:22

Lazarus, upon his death, went to be in the joyful presence of the Lord.

And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.

Luke 16:23

The rich man was not yet in the lake of fire, but was still in a terrible hopeless place reserved for those who die without trusting Christ.

And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.

Luke 16:24

This shows the reality of eternal conscious torment.

But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.

Luke 16:25

Hell is a place of remembering.

And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.

Luke 16:26

This is no purgatory. Once a person is sent to hell, there is no escape.

Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.

Luke 16:27-31

The fact that the physical resurrection from the dead of a fellow human being will not convince those who have rejected the Biblical truth about Jesus would be demonstrated when another Lazaurus was in fact raised from the dead.

Much people of the Jews therefore knew that he was there: and they came not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom he had raised from the dead. But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death; Because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus.

John 12:9-11

In Luke 17 Jesus began teaching the Disciples privately, rather than the multitudes openly, and He stressed the importance of communicating His message accurately.

Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come! It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.

Luke 17:1-2

Forgiving those who who have offended us can be difficult, but we need to remember to be like Jesus.

Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.

Luke 17:3-4

Gullibility is not the goal, but restoration is.

But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat? And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink? Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not. So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.

Luke 17:7-10

We do not impress God with works. That is one reason that faith is so important in our relationship with God. Even if we did everything “right,” we would still be unprofitable because we would not be adding anything TO God. We would not be making Him better. This does not mean that we should not attempt anything great for God. It means to, by faith, attempt all sorts of great things in the name of God and have faith that He will accomplish them Himself.

And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off: And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.

Luke 17:11-14

By law the lepers were required to present themselves to the priests. Their acting upon faith is when Jesus chose to heal them.

And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.

Luke 17:15-19

Do not forget to be thankful. Do not forget to glorify God.

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 | 3 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.

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