Tag Archives: Luke

Morning Thoughts (Luke 15:31)

Luke 15:31, "And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine."

This morning, people continue to value perception over reality.  To some, they have all the answers, and none can teach them anything.  Quite often, the things that frustrate these people the most are the very things that they too are guilty of themselves.  For example, the ever-increasing world of "tolerance" that we live in promotes from the highest authorities that we need to be tolerant and accepting of people even though they are different than we are. Scripture commands that we should extend liberty to those that might do things differently than we do in non-essential matters, but the world would have us compromise principles and moral integrity in the name of tolerance and open acceptance.  Consider, though, that these great heralds of tolerance are themselves some of the most intolerant people in the world.  For, they cry that Christians should be tolerant of those things that go contrary to principled living, but they fail to tolerate the Christian lifestyle, mindset, and decorum.  The Pharisees in Christ's day were great promoters of the law and sought to instruct the people in the points of the law, yet Christ pointed out in many venues that they were guilty of breaking the very law that they claimed to uphold with highest purity and authority.  So it is in our day today.  We fallen creatures will quickly point out the problems with others in our own perceptions yet fail to see that we ourselves are guilty of the same things and quite often must be reminded of them ourselves.  Thank God when He reminds us of these things that He reminds us of never-changing realities that do not ebb and flow based on the perception of the day.

Our study verse is set in the midst of an account that is commonly referred to as the story of the "Prodigal Son."  As a wise elder pointed out, "It is really not the story of the 'Prodigal Son' but the 'Prodigal Sons.'"  Our verse pertains to the elder son that was a prodigal in his own right, though often his younger brother is the only one that bears such a moniker in theological vernacular.  In the story, the younger brother seeks his portion of the inheritance to live on his own.  After leaving home, he spends all that he has, finds himself in the slops of the pigpen, and decides in himself to come home.  He plans to plead a servant's place simply for his own survival.  However, his father sees him return and embraces him as though nothing of ill had happened between them.  His place in the house is restored, and the elder son returns from laboring in the field to a celebration in the house.  Upon finding out the reason for the party, he refuses to go in for the hardheartedness and unforgiving attitude that he had about his younger brother.  When his father comes out of the house to visit with this prodigal situation, the older son reminds his father of his faithfulness.  Why father?  Why in all my faithfulness did you never do this for me, yet you did it for my wayward little brother?

With this setting, we find the father's response to his son with our study verse at the very outset of his answer.  Before he tells his son the reasoning for the celebration, he reminds his son that he is 1.  Ever with him and 2.  An heir of the fulness of the father's house.  These are realities that do not sway based on the shifting sands of time; nor do they change based on the whims or perceptions of man of the goings on of this universe.  Now, the younger son is rightly called a prodigal, for he certainly displayed such decorum of life in riotous living.  However, the older son is also a prodigal (as it takes various and sundry forms) by hardening himself to feel compassion, love, and mercy for his blood and family.  His perception of what "must be done" had blinded him from the weightier matters of God's law such as mercy.  Doubtless, it was a righteous thing that the elder had done in not leaving the father's house, yet it was also a righteous thing that his little brother did in coming back with a servant's attitude.  In that sense, they both share in some manifestations of righteous behavior.  Yet, just as they share in manifestations of righteous behavior, they also display great lacking, indicative of the fallen nature of man's depravity.

With both of these sons showing some measure of righteousness and some measure of depravity, has their relationship ever changed?  No, for they are always brethren.  They are always their father's sons.  Yet, their fellowship and interaction with one another changed immensely based on their conduct and thinking.  So is it with the family of God today.  We are always God's sons, and we are always each other's brethren.  However, the presence of our Father and the blessings of His house and our spiritual family will greatly change based on our decisions – for good or evil.  The elder son watched his little brother foolishly leave his father's house for a far country, yet at the end he was in relatively the same shape as his brother had been: without the house.  The younger willingly chose to leave the house to another country, and the elder willingly (or stubbornly) refused to go in the house due to pride.  And yet, the glory of it all is that reality never changes.  They are their father's sons.

Brethren, if I have been blessed to see anything in my tenure in this old world, it is the reality and ever present fact that God is real and that He has touched my life in mercy and compassion in numberless ways.  From the declaration of His word, this teaches me that I am His son, and if that be reality, so shall it ever be.  His family that he loves and paid for has been and forever shall be my brethren in this old world.  Yes, our decisions can render our fellowship fruitless and cut it off for long seasons and possibly for the remainder of our existence, but we are forever brethren.  As an old preacher in this part of the country is known for saying, "If you don't like me, you better start.  We're going to be in heaven forever together."  So, looking at our study verse, we see two realities that as God's children never change.

We are ever with Him our Father.  Yes, our stubbornness may keep us from enjoying His house, and our moral failings may keep us from the pleasure of His courts, but we are ever with Him.  As Isaiah prophesied in 49:16, God is better than even a natural mother.  She may forget her sucking child, but the Lord will never forget us as we have been graven upon the palms of His hands and our walls are continually before Him.  That means that we are in His hand, on His mind, and captured in His heart all the time.  Being continually before Him gives strong confirmation that nothing ever changes that reality.  Just as this stubborn son had to be reminded of this, so must I be reminded from time to time.  No matter how long the road and no matter how many my failings, I am ever with Him.  As David declared in Psalm 139:18, we are still with him even after we awake.  As the promise to His children of "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee" shows, sleeping, stubbornness, immorality, and any other host of natural situations cannot serve to separate us from our Father.  One of the glories of that beautiful promise goes beyond Him not forsaking us.  He promised never to leave us as well.  Though I must leave my family from time to time when I go to work or on preaching trips, our God is such a better Father than I can be.  He not only does not forsake us, but He never leaves us either.

Another reality brought to the elder son's attention was that of his inheritance.  Now, in the natural example, there had already been great waste made of the father's assets by the younger boy.  Yet, the father told his stubborn eldest, "all" is thine.  Not some, not part, but all is his.  One of the most comforting thoughts about heaven is that we shall all experience the fulness of the glories untold equally with our brethren: none more important or elevated than another.  As Paul so eloquently declares in Romans 8:16-17, our inheritance and standing is that we are "joint heirs with Christ."  To be a joint heir means that 100% of what is there is ours.  Now while I do not have any conception of the exact number of God's family, let us just hypothesize that it is 1,000,000,000,000 souls.  Each of us in God's family is not going to get one 1,000,000,000,000th of heaven and immortal glory.  Rather each of the blood-bought ransomed family of God will get 100% of glory.  When a husband and wife have a joint relationship, 100% of what they possess belongs to each.  Not 50/50 as so many divorce proceedings shoot for, but all of it for each.  Friends, the elder was told – in the midst of wrongdoing – that all the father's house belonged to him.  Friends, even in the midst of wrongdoing, all that pertains to our Father's house belongs to us.  Each and every one of us equally.  100%.  No exceptions.

In the ever changing world in which we live – these days primarily for the worse – it is easy to lose sight of the eternal realities that God has declared unto us.  Though His chastening hand and rod are not pleasant to endure in the moment, thank God that His chastening and correction reminds us of those things that are ever real.  He is still there, and we possess all that He has.  Friends, we are all prodigals at different times and different ways.  Some of us leave the house in immoral and unrighteous living in untoward lands.  Some of us through the wickedness of pride and stubbornness of rebellion refuse to enjoy the good things of God because things are not going "our way."  Yet others of us allow the world to get us down to the point that we live in fear and morbid dread of what may come our way.  Have I touched everybody yet?  Friends, the glorious truth and wonderful reality is that our Father's house is ours, and our presence never parted.  Hang on to these glorious realities.  The wickedness of the world cannot change them.  Our wayward steps cannot change them.  Surely, I am persuaded that nothing can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus the Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)

In Hope,

Bro Philip

Morning Thoughts (Luke 24:27)

Luke 24:27, "And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself."

This morning, while we as mortal creatures detest condemnation, many times those circumstances of condemnation strip down the things we do not need to focus more clearly on those things that are truly important.  Being comfortable, complacent, and rutted can be desirable to the flesh, but these are rarely – if ever – good circumstances for the walk of faith.  Whenever we become rutted in our thinking, we have a tendency to not think clearly or react well to the circumstances before us.  What makes it even harder to get out of is – like a natural rut – the longer we are in it the higher the wall becomes to overcome to get out of it.  This is why old habits are so hard to break: the wall is seemingly insurmountable in our minds to escape from it.  These are the moments when the condemnation for our short-sightedness can be so needed and revealing in our lives.

Oftentimes, I have been asked the question, "If you could place yourself in any one day or circumstance in history, where/when would it be?"  For years, my response has been the setting for the verse before us.  Can you imagine what the sermon must have been like as it was uttered from the beautiful lips of the Master?  Talk about an Old Testament sermon for the ages!  Later, the two disciples that were recipients of the blessed message talked about how it gave them heartburn.  However, they also talked about how He "opened to us the Scriptures."  Not only did His message resonate with the souls of the two men, but it peeled back the curtain of their minds to understand things about the Scriptures and reveal things to them that they previously had not considered.  To have revealed to you personally all the Old Testament Scriptures about the Christ from the Christ Himself!  What a mind-expanding event it must have been that convicted the soul at the same time!

However, I have recently come to see something in this glorious event that has made me examine my own personal experience.  While these two disciples on the road to Emmaus were the only recipients of this glorious sermon, they got there through some harsh condemnation by the Saviour.  They were sad when He joined their company, and when He asked them why they were so sad, they responded in defeated tones.  Notice in verses 19-24, they respond to Christ's inquiry by speaking of Christ in the past tense.  Even though they freely admit that there were reports and witnesses of His resurrection, they still remained defeated and spoke of Jesus in the past tense.  Friends, we should never refer to Him in the past tense.  He is an ever present help in time of need. (Psalm 46:1) Not only were they speaking of Him in the past, they were denying the very reports that testified to the same thing He preached while He ministered to them: His resurrection.  Should they have hid in their heart what He said, they would have understood that He verily would die, but rise again the third day.

Knowing what the Master taught, this day should have been a day of rejoicing.  Even if they had not gotten the news from the witnesses, they should have rejoiced, but with the news, there should have been even more cause for uplifted spirits and much delight.  Since these two disciples had not reacted to the death of Christ and the succeeding events like they should have, Christ appears to them to manifest things to them and reveal things to them that will produce the fruit that they should be bearing at this time.  Before giving them the glorious discourse from our verse, He upbraids (convicts and condemns) them for their unbelief by showing the necessity of Christ suffering and enduring these things then to enter into His glory. (Verses 25-26)

Now, let us proceed to our own experience and see some of the truths of this lesson as they relate to us personally.  While I cannot say that I have had Christ personally appear in fleshly form with me in my journey, I have felt the same type of experience that these two did.  So much of my life should be uplifted and full of rejoicing, yet I find myself cast down quite often.  Do I have legitimate reason to be?  In all honesty, no I do not.  Ever.  Consider our position and the blessed knowledge that Christ has bestowed upon us.  Is He resurrected?  Does He have all power, glory, and might?  Coupled with that, will we one day – without fail – be where He is?  From now until that glorious time, has He promised to never leave us nor forsake us?  The answer to all those questions is yes.  Since those questions are all answered in the affirmative, I have absolutely no reason to be cast down.  Yet, many times I am.

When Christ appears (in Spirit) to upbraid and condemn me for my short-sightedness, the event is painful but always fruitful.  Upon reflection, I have come to realize that some of my deepest understandings and revelations of Scripture came on the heels of some of my most downcast times.  When upbraiding my sadness, the Saviour has opened the Scriptures in ways that I had not previously seen.  While I do not treasure the conviction that I feel during those scenes, I do treasure the opening of the understanding that He has blessed me with.  What sermons were those two capable of preaching after this event that they could not have done otherwise?  What glorious things have mine eyes been made to see that made me realize what little I have to be sad about and how much I have to be thankful for!

There is an old expression that says, "The growing is done in the valleys."  Friends, the two on the road in our lesson were in a deep, dark valley, but there was a tremendous amount of growing that took place in them personally from the teaching of the Lord.  Many of my "spurts" of growth in understanding come when in deep, dark valleys.  Lately, I have been made to realize even more deeply the glorious promise and expression, "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee."  Friends, even if we do not forsake our loved ones in this earth, we have to leave them from time to time.  Every workday, I leave my family for the office.  However, our Lord not only does not forsake us, but He never leaves us as well.  Consider how many times we have foolishly asked, "God, where are you?"  Friends, He is always there!  Upon the realization that He is with us, we can feel condemned at the folly of our own mind and heart, but how sweet the deeper understanding can be when we realize once again what we should have already learned and then realize it even more deeply than before.

There is no excuse for stumbling at things we should already have a firm grasp on.  These disciples were without excuse not to realize after 3.5 years of walking and talking with Him that He is God with all power, might, and dominion.  They were without excuse not to believe what He told them about His eventual resurrection, and subsequent ascension into glory.  Furthermore, they were without excuse not to believe what had already been written of Him, which He expounded in intricate detail unto them.  Translated today, I am without excuse not to believe all that has been written of Him and the glorious truths that have so sweetly been revealed to me.  I am without excuse not to remember all the ways in which His hand has led and guided me through difficult seasons of life and lifted me up at times to soar on His wings.  Furthermore, I am without excuse not to remember what He has yet promised to deliver me to that will drive all the toils of this life into the paleness of the forgotten when that glory is revealed in me.

Just as these two, I have no reason to be cast down and every reason to be uplifted.  However, during those moments that I fall short, He convicts the soul and burns the conscience down in my chest while at the same time opening to me the Scriptures.  These treasures of revealed knowledge have come after some of my most faulty seasons, but I am convinced that it does not always have to be that way.  Indeed, experience can be a very effective teacher, and it has been repeatedly in my life, but I have learned lately even more deeply to pray as instructed "and lead us not into temptation."  So oftentimes, I learn more deeply when experiencing the lesson and the trial, but my prayer should be to learn the lesson without needing the trial or test to learn it.  Notice that Christ tested these disciples to prove by their own mouth why they were so downcast, and then upbraided them accordingly.  Many times, my test comes as I prove manifestly why I am so downcast, and then am upbraided accordingly.  May our journey going forward be uplifted and filled with grateful hearts for His kind providence and blessing.  May our prayers be to learn and have the Scriptures opened to us without having to go through the test and trial, and most of all, may we heed more and more, deeper and deeper into those things that the Lord would have us to learn and to do.

In Hope,

Bro Philip