Manna for Today

 

The Begrudging Brother (Luke 15:11-32)

25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’

28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’

31 “ ‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ ”  (Luke 15:25-32)
 Learn it:

            Today we are looking at the parable to the prodigal son.  It is fairly well known, and I want to focus more on the older brother.  The one that has been faithful the whole time to his father, while his younger brother wasted away the inheritance he received.  The older brother represents the Pharisee’s in Jesus’ time.  They felt superior to other people and did not want everyone coming to know God.  They felt they had been loyal longer and God should bless them and not new converts. 

Towards the end of the parable the older brother is outside arguing with his father about the party and celebration that is going on.  The father, which represents God, is loving and compassionate.  He wants to celebrate the return of the lost son and he wants the older brother to join in.  The story ends with a cliff hanger.  We do not know how the older brother responds to is father’s invitation.  Is he going to go into the party and celebrate or is he going to stay outside and be bitter?  The reader is left to think about what they would do in that same situation.

 Live it:

            This parable shows the deep love of God.  He freely gives to us the ability to live our lives the way we want to.  We can squander all the blessings he has given us and yet he is there waiting to welcome us back.  He will forgive all sins.  Past, present, and future.  When a person repents of their sins and turns to God it is a cause for celebration!  Sometimes we can have jaded hearts and question whether a person has genuinely repented or not.  We then keep a close eye on them and maybe even find ways to test them to see if they have really changed.  Is that what a loving Christian should do?  Jesus Christ tells us we are to forgive them and welcome them into the body of Christ.  Of course, if a person does slip up then we are to address that, but we should not hold them at arm’s length and judge them.  If you were the older brother how would you respond to father’s invitation?  Would you go in and celebrate or would you stay outside? 


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The Lost Found (Luke 15:1-10)

Now the tax collectors and “sinners” were all gathering around to hear him. 2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

3 Then Jesus told them this parable: 4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

8 “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? 9 And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ 10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”  (Luke 15:1-10)
 
Learn it:

            Over the past few weeks, Jesus has done a lot of teaching about the importance of surrendering your life to Christ and the consequences of that decision.  In chapter 15 he begins to shift gears and shows the heart of God in reaching the lost.  The Pharisee’s back then often condemned Jesus for how he spent so much time with the “sinners”.  Jesus wanted to show them how much God wanted to bring all people into a relationship with him.  He does it by sharing three parables, and we will look at two today.  The two parables are about a lost sheep and a lost coin.  Have you ever lost something and felt the anxiety over the loss?  How you cannot rest until you find it?  God wants people to know him and be in community with him. 

            The things that are lost are not extravagant, priceless things.  They are modest and it should show us that God is going to be searching hard for all people.  No one is too small or insignificant to him.  We also see that when the sheep and coin are found it is a cause for celebration!  All of heaven is going to rejoice when one person repents and surrenders their life to Christ!  If heaven is rejoicing then we should be rejoicing here on earth as well. 

 Live it:

            We are called to live a life patterned after the life of Christ.  He goes after all people and builds relationships with people who society may call unworthy.  Many times we like to stay in our comfort zone and not talk to people who are different than us.  We must not get complacent and push ourselves out of our bubbles!  We must talk to those neighbors that annoy us, or our co-workers that we’d like to avoid.  Maybe there is a family member who you’ve witnessed too many times and they keep rejecting the gospel.  Persevere.  Just like the shepherd had to take time and energy to find the one lost sheep.  We must take time and energy to love those that are lost.  How can you love your neighbor?  How can you have a conversation with a co-worker?  How can you communicate the gospel in a new way to your family member that it might click for them this time?  God did not give up on you so you should continue to be faithful in loving the lost.

 


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The Cost of Being a Disciple of Christ (Luke 14:25-35)

Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple. 27 And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? 29 For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, 30 saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’

31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33 In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.

34 “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? 35 It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out.

“He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”  (Luke 14:25-35)
 Learn it:

            Jesus is now shifting gears and is beginning to prepare his disciples for his departure.  When Jesus leaves, he wants to make sure the disciples understand what it takes to follow after him.  He starts out by saying that Jesus must be the priority in their life.  Compared to how much they love Jesus, it should look as though they hate their family.  That is how much they are to love him.  That’s some intense love! 

            He goes on to tell two stories.  One is about a person planning to build a tower.  They need to have a plan a be sure they have all the supplies they need in order to build the tower.  They do not want to be close to finishing and then run out of supplies.  In the same way, when a person follows Christ, they need to understand what it is going to take.  It is always sad to see someone turn from their faith because they did not count the costs.              

            Next is a story about a king going to war.  If he sees he is not going to be able to win, he would be wise to make peace.  We too must make peace with God in our own lives.  He is the creator of the universe and no matter how smart we may think we are; we are not going to win eternity on our own strength.  We must surrender our lives to God.  He ends with what seems to be a confusing story about salt.  If salt has no usefulness, then it should be discarded.  If a disciple of Christ is not pursuing after things of God, they become useless to God.  This can raise serious implications like, was that person ever saved?  Or are they going to lose rewards or face judgment at the end times? 

 Live it:

            Deciding to become a follower of Christ should not be taken lightly.  To follow Christ means that you should give up your life, your desires, and your plans.  While we want people to know of the saving power of the cross, we want them to also understand what changes are going to occur in their life.  Have you thought about what you have sacrificed to follow Jesus?  Have you considered the cost?  We all should be pursuing things in our lives that glorify God.  How are you making him famous and humbling yourself to his ways?  I pray that God would reveal ways in your life and my life that we can lay our desires before him and he would guide us to where he wants us to go.   


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Give, Rather than Receive (Luke 14:1-24)

 One Sabbath, when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee, he was being carefully watched. 2 There in front of him was a man suffering from dropsy. 3 Jesus asked the Pharisees and experts in the law, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?” 4 But they remained silent. So taking hold of the man, he healed him and sent him away.

5 Then he asked them, “If one of you has a son or an ox that falls into a well on the Sabbath day, will you not immediately pull him out?” 6 And they had nothing to say.

7 When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: 8 “When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. 9 If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this man your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. 10 But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all your fellow guests. 11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

12 Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. 13 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”  (Luke 14:1-14)
 Learn it:

            Jesus is again going after the Pharisees again.  We see that they have hard hearts because they are now at the point where they are not talking with Jesus when he asks questions.  So, Jesus takes the opportunity to tell them a story.  It was typical of the culture back them for the most honored guests would show up late.  The point of the story is that it is better to be humble so that you can be honored than be prideful and be shamed.  Humility is not an emotion we naturally go to.  We like to be recognized.  The big question is, do we want to be recognized here on earth or in heaven?  

            Next, Jesus gives some advice on who to invite to your party.  He says that if a person wants to show true hospitality then they would invite people who cannot pay them back.  That is authentic hospitality.  If you invite someone over with the expectation of them reciprocating in the future, then that’s not hospitality.  I want to say, that’s not a bad thing to do.  That’s a way to build fellowship!  We want to bring others into the family of Christ and a good way to do that is by showing hospitality.      
 Live it:

            Being a follower of Christ means we have to set aside our pride and love those that are on the fringes of society.  It is so easy to love those that are the same as you but Christ was always challenging social norms.  Who do you know at work or in your neighborhood that could use a hand?  You can do it simply by inviting them over for dinner and getting to know them.  That will be so much more meaningful to them than you dropping off a meal for them.  Showing them what a Christian community looks like could have a powerful impact in their life.  Who can you invite over to your house for a meal? 


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Pastor’s Corner