Tag Archives: Luke 15

Morning Thoughts (Luke 15:12)

Morning ThoughtsLuke 15:12, “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.”

This morning, we live in a very consumer-driven world. People use up and/or waste resources faster and faster with each passing day. One of the hallmarks of previous generations was conservatism and making resources stretch as far as they possibly could. Throwing food away was frowned upon (after all, most of it was grown personally and therefore appreciated). New things were a rarity and luxury rather than commonplace. Today, people have trended greatly in the opposite direction to the point that most of my generation do not have the experience of saving and conserving, which has led to a lot of the recent debt problems in individual families. One of the most comforting things to the child of God, though, is that our Father has an endless supply of grace and mercy, which are new every morning. (Lamentations 3:22-23)

Our study verse is found in the midst of a story most commonly referred to as the “Prodigal Son.” In actuality, this account tells the story of “prodigal sons,” but that is a discussion for another time. What is interesting about this story is how much theological confusion people are able to draw out of it. For example, some have used this story to teach that God’s children ALWAYS come back to the right way (the Father’s house) before they die. Such a broad and absolute thought should not be derived from this story as the Bible abounds with accounts of God’s children languishing and eventually dying apart from the blessings and comforts of the right way: Lot being a good example from Genesis 19. Another theological problem that sometimes arises from people’s application of this lesson is that it is possible to waste and ruin our inheritance that our Father laid up for us.

According to Peter’s account of our inheritance, there will not be anything to tarnish it as it is “reserved in heaven for you.” (I Peter 1:4) So, if our inheritance that Christ purchased for us with His own blood cannot be spoiled but will remain incorruptible and reserved for us, what does the study verse before us show? What is interesting about our verse is that the language does not even mention an inheritance in it. People will infer it from the father’s action of giving his son his goods, but the lesson actually teaches something profoundly different with a fresh warning for us today.

Later in the story, the son returns home, and the father mercifully clothes him, feeds him, and gives him all the care of a son of the house. From the description of a robe, ring, fatted calf, etc. we see that this son’s inheritance from his father was very much intact. So, what did the father give him and he subsequently lose? What the father divided to him was his “living” from the portion of goods in the house. The father did not give him his inheritance to waste but a living that was ruined in riotous living. Even his brother understood that concept as he mentions that his younger brother wasted the father’s living. (Verse 30)

Friends, though we cannot ruin or spoil the vast richness and beauty that affords us in that great world to come, there is a lot of ruin that we can bring upon ourselves here in this life. It equates to squandering our Father’s living that He has graciously provided to us. What is our living? We understand from Scripture that life, breath, and being come from and belong to Him. (Acts 17:28) People today talk about having “one life to live” and “every day being a gift.” While these statements are true, they generally have their focus misaligned. They use clich├ęs like this to encourage people to not have regrets but live a life fulfilling all their desires and realize accomplishments that they want to attain. That is exactly the mindset of this prodigal son when he wanted to leave and “do his own thing.” He wanted to experience all that his heart ached for out in the big bright world.

Truly, our lives are not our own as we are bought with a price. (I Corinthians 6:19-20) Therefore, our “living” is a portion of life and health that God has granted us so that we might live quiet and peaceable lives to His honour and service. In other words, we should remain at and in the Father’s house using His living to bring pleasure to Him rather than ourselves. Most of the time, we take our living for granted until it is gone. Much like the prodigal son, we forget the richness of the Father’s bounty until we are completely impoverished. We fail to appreciate good health until we have completely wrecked it due to a riotous lifestyle. Possessions are glanced over until they are lost, and family is something that we pine for once their presence is removed from us.

The sadness of today’s world is seeing so many prodigals wasting their substance and living that was graciously bestowed by the Father unto them. Talents from His hand are wasted. Service opportunities are squandered. Most of all, worship (part of our living) is neglected today greater than ever before. The harlots and enchantments of the world have lured away the great portion of God’s children, and sadly, some today are in the pigpens of life without yet realizing where the salve for their situation resides. The Father’s house beats out the world in every way. Though formalized church is considered antiquated by modern standards, it is still the place of much feasting and rejoicing.

When the son returned home, he saw and experienced that his inheritance was still intact. Can you imagine? After all I have done, my father still has my inheritance waiting for me. What a joy of spirit must have burst out! When sin-sick and sorrow-laden children of God are blessed to come back to the Father’s house, it is always a joy to see the repentant sinner experience the realization that no matter how “used up” their living was, heaven still awaits. We see heaven brighter and feel its breeze sweeter in the Father’s house. Sometimes it seems like the sights, sounds, and smells of Paradise are just a step away when the Father’s house is raised up above the valleys of life. As the glorious declaration comes, “What is lost has now been found!” the soul reaches out by faith to almost taste the droppings of heaven’s honey!

Though this lesson shows that our inheritance can never be lost, it brings to clear sight that we can absolutely lose all the living of our Father in this life. His love for us abides, and His smile and embrace will be found if we turn from our wicked ways and repent. However, we do not have to experience the hog barn to know that it is bad for us. We do not need to experience like Solomon all the vanity of life to realize how vexing it can be. If we are content to dwell at home in the Father’s house, consider how the living will be! The Father will never tell us, “You are spending too much time at home. Experience what is out there. In fact, I need some ‘Me Time’ so go ahead and sow your wild oats.” The Father’s pleasure smiles upon those that obediently enjoy His living in His house. May we put our life, breath, being, talents, service, and single-focused worship (our living and portion of goods) where it belongs: His House with His presence.

In Hope,

Bro Philip

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