Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Luke 20:27-47

v. 27-38 The Sadducees who did not believe in the resurrection asked Jesus the following.  "Moses wrote for us that if a man's brother dies and leaves a wife but no children, the man must marry the widow and have children for his brother.  Now there were seven brothers.  The first one married a woman and died childless.  The second and then the third married her, and the same way the seven died, leaving no children.  Finally, the woman died too.  Now then, at the resurrection whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her?"  Jesus replied, "The people of this age marry and are given in marriage.  But those who considered worthy of taking part in that age and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels.  They are God's children, since they are children of the resurrection.  But in the account of the bush, even Moses showed that the dead rise, for he calls the Lord 'the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.'  He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to Him all are alive."

The Sadducees were another group of religious leaders who had some different beliefs than the Pharisees.  These two groups thought that their beliefs were correct and the other group was wrong so there was probably lots of debates between the two groups.  The Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection so this question had probably stumped the Pharisees.  They only read Genesis through Deuteronomy and could not find any proof of the resurrection in those books.  It is sad to think that people have missed out on the other books of the bible, the entire book is meant to be read as a whole not picked through to back certain beliefs.  Deuteronomy 25:5 says that if a man dies without children then his brother should marry the woman to have children with her.  This is something that is unfamiliar in current times, but required back then.

The Sadducees were not concerned with what would happen to the woman, they wanted to corner Jesus.  Jesus got right to the meaning of the question, the resurrection.  Heaven does not have the same rules as earth.  Jesus is the bridegroom coming for the bride, I believe that will be the only marriage in Heaven.  I believe that we will be with our families in Heaven, but there will not be anyone getting married there.  Jesus used something that Moses said to prove His point.  Moses calls the Lord the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  So how can God be the God of the dead?  He considers them living, just in a different form.  Jesus knew that they respected Moses and used Moses' words to prove His point.  People will ask you tough questions that you might not have an answer to, do your best at answering them.  Then maybe we are supposed to just listen to them and show that we care.  There may be an underlining issue that they can not express in words and our compassion may deem the questions unnecessary

 v. 41-47 Jesus responded to the Sadducees, "How is it that they say the Christ is the Son of David?  David himself declares in the Book of Psalms: The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.  David calls Him, 'Lord' How then can He be his son?"  Jesus told His disciples, "Beware of the teachers of the law.  They like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets.  They devour widows' houses and for a show make lengthy prayers.  Such men will be punished most severely."

The Sadducees were getting a tough question when Jesus asked how Christ is David's son when he called Him Lord.  They knew that the Christ would be a descendant of David, but they did not know that He would be more than just a man.  Jesus quoted Psalm 110:1 to show that David knew that Christ would be both human and divine.  Jesus was David's Lord as God and David's son as man.  If we do not believe Jesus is who He says He is then other spiritual questions are insignificant.  Jesus was warning His disciples to steer clear of the religious leaders.  They were proud and wanted praise from the people, yet their hearts were hard as stone and they exploited the weak and helpless.  I love how The Message says, "the longer their prayers, the worse they get."  What would it look like if some church people fought over the last seats in the front row?  Do you know anyone who thinks they have the right to the most prominent seat in the room?  If Jesus was there they might want a better seat than Him!  I believe God wants to bless us in life and it's ok for preachers to have nice things, but it gets to a point where things get out of balance.  One house is great, but having three or four in exclusive neighborhoods is an entirely different matter because that is not necessary.  Jesus says that these men will be punished most severely.  Their hearts turned away from the very people Jesus was trying to help, they misguided the people with their deceptive hearts.  When I met my husband he said that he liked me and how I treated people.  It was important for him to marry a woman who treated people good.  He had gone out with some women who were mean towards others and he did not care to be around people like that.  We should treat everyone with kindness and respect.  The king and the cleaning lady are on the same level.  Religious deeds can never cancel out sin.  It makes me sad to think that some will use prayer as a sort of weapon against God instead of for Him. 

  • Jesus gave warning to all disciples to beware of leaders who violated God word
  • watch how the leaders behaved
  • look past their words to their actions
  • they let pride seep into their souls
  • they loved attention and praise from men
  • their arrogance in their placement in society
  • treatment of widows and the helpless
  • took money to keep their lifestyle intact at the expense of the poor
  • betrayed God's gift of pray to make themselves look and sound holy
  • leading others to follow in their footsteps

"Christ reads them their doom in a few words: These shall receive a more abundant judgment, a double damnation, both for their abuse of the poor widows, whose houses they devoured, and for their abuse of religion, and particularly of prayer, which they had made use of as a pretence for the more plausible and effectual carrying on of their worldly and wicked projects; for dissembled piety is double iniquity."                                                                                                               Matthew Henry

"In every age there have been men of corrupt minds, that have endeavoured to subvert the fundamental principles of revealed religion."                                                                 Matthew Henry

Monday, April 29, 2013

Watch out for the wolves

Last night I was watching a show where a pastor to justify his beliefs said that the bible writers were "having a bad day" in perceiving God's will and thought that a certain part of the bible was incorrect.  My heart sunk because I knew this was not true.  Red flags were going up everywhere in my mind.  I am a believer in the ENTIRE bible.  I can not pick and choose what I want to believe in out of the bible.  There are many stories that I don't understand or that seem terrible, but I believe the bible was written for all of us as a understanding of God and our history for the benefit of the present and for our future.  There are many that pick out only what they think is right.  This was not some minor issue, this is a core value issue in Christian life.  I do not want to settle for a lukewarm life.  2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped of every good work."

If someone thinks that the bible isn't fully correct then how in the world can they justify teaching it?  This is why I believe we are to personally read the bible not just get our information through religious leaders.  I believe it is good to belong to a church and have good spiritual leaders in our lives, but this relationship we have with Jesus is completely personal.  If we do not know what the word says then when the enemy comes we will follow a misguided shepherd instead of the true Shepherd. 

Matthew 7:15 "Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves."

Saturday, April 27, 2013

My prayer for you

You are being prayed for today and most days.  Whether I know you or you are those in Germany, Russia or some other country that I don't know, I am glad you are here.  I don't know your specific prayers, although the Holy Spirit knows exactly what you need.  I will be going about a normal day and you all will be on my heart to which I will start to pray right then.  Prayer should not wait until later or at the end of the day.  Often things will come up and we will forget.  Prayer is an underrated weapon against the enemy, it along with faith are our most valuable armor. 

I pray that you will find God's peace.  Seeing a glimpse of His peace is unrivaled.  There are many things on earth that try to imitate His peace and only lead us astray.

I pray that you know you are loved.  His love is like a warm blanket on a cold night.  The warmth and comfort is a beautiful display of His grace.  You could never be too far in the darkness that His light couldn't reach you.

I pray that you will really see what is going on.  There is a battle going on for you.  The spirit realm is where the battle is, yet God and the enemy are using people to get to our hearts and souls. 

I pray you can forgive and bless your enemies.  This is the hardest thing to do.  God forgives us so that we can forgive others.  If you can do this you will be set free.

I pray you will read the bible.  This book is a love story to us along with a warning against evil.  His grace is amazing that He would give it out so lavishly. 

I pray that today will be a good day for you and you can look to God for all your needs.

I pray that you will find a good church or community of believers, but be warned church is full of sinners so do not let them get you down.  Together we are stronger.  Remember the enemy will hunt us down to try and separate us for others.  You are NEVER alone. 


Luke 20:20-26

v. 20-26 The religious leaders sent spies who pretended to be honest to trick Jesus.  The spies asked, "Teacher, we know that you speak and teach what is right, and that you do not show partiality but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth.  Is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?"  Jesus seeing their hearts replied, "Show me a denarius.  Whose portrait and inscription are on it?"  They replied, "Caesar's" so Jesus told them "Then give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's."  The spies were unable to trap Jesus and were amazed by His answer, they became silent.

The leaders were trying to get Jesus in trouble so they had an excuse to turn Him in to the Roman authorities.  Look at the way the spies talked as if they were complimenting Jesus.  They spoke the truth, yet underneath their hearts were wicked.  There is a big difference between what people speak and their actions.  If the two do not line up then be wary of them.  The topic of taxes had to be one of the most talked about in the region.  The Jews had to pay taxes to Roman which was to support their pagan government and gods.  Tax collectors charges exorbitant rates and kept the extra money for themselves.  If Jesus said they should pay taxes then He would look like a traitor to their nation and religion.  If He said that they should not pay taxes then He could be reported to Rome as a rebel.  This supports our responsibility to pay taxes whether we like it our not. 

On our coins it says "In God we trust," yet do we really?  If we follow God then we are obligated to both God and government.  If they conflict then we are to follow God before government.  That does not mean to disrespect our leaders, we are to pray for them no matter what our views.  We are to be good citizens, obey laws and be respectful to authority.  In the bible God sometimes used non-Jewish leaders to accomplish His plans, so why do we think He couldn't do the same now?  There are those who want to secede from our country which is an insane idea.  Maybe if our leaders were prayed for instead of judged they might make better decisions.  Our political atmosphere in this country is appalling.  We have news channels that have an agenda, that spout opinion instead of facts.  There has been such disrespect for our president and other leaders, this is not what our founders would have wanted.  Our job as Christians is to pray for them.  We are to rely on God, not the government because it is full of sinners.  When we rely on our leaders they will disappoint us at some point in time.  God is showing us that we are not to rely on them.  I liked when the pastor at church said that God is not a Republican.  You can't put God in a political box.  I call my self a Republicrat, a mix of two parties.  I believe both parties are very wrong on certain topics and right on others.  The political climate will only get worse so we are to pray and trust in God. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Luke 20:1-19

v. 1-8 Jesus was teaching the people in the temple.  The chief priests and teachers all came to Jesus to ask Him who gave Him authority.  Jesus replied "I will also ask you a question.  Tell Me, John's baptism-was it from heaven, or from men?"  The leaders discussed this and said "If we say, 'From heaven,' he will ask, 'Why didn't you believe Him?'  But if we say, 'From men,' all the people will stone us, because they are persuaded that John was a prophet."  They answered that they did not know where it was from.  Jesus said, "Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things."

Jesus was just doing what He would normally do and a crowd came to Him to trip Him up.  Do you often feel like when you are under attack it is from a group of "friends"?  One may not be bold, but in a crowd nerves don't seem to waver.  They are comforted by the crowd association, there they are safe to do harm.  Do you notice when the leaders tried to trap Jesus He never seemed to get defensive?  He seemed calm and spoke the truth.  If Jesus answered that His authority came from God then they would accuse Him of blasphemy.  Jesus turned the question back around to them and they did not have an answer.  If someone wants to argue with us about God then maybe we should turn the questions back to them to answer.  You will get nowhere arguing with someone if they are dead set against believing.  All you will do is reinforce the stereotype of the crazy Christian which will reinforce the beliefs they already have.  Jesus did not have to directly tell what authority He had because their hearts were so hard that they would never understand.

v. 9-19 Jesus tells the parable of the evil farmers.  "A man planted a vineyard, rented it to some farmers and went away for a long time.  At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants so they would give him some of the fruit of the vineyard.  But the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed."  The man sent two more servants who were treated the same.  "Then the owner of the vineyard said, 'What shall I do?  I will send my son, whom I love; perhaps they will respect him.'"  The man sent his son and the tenants said to themselves, "This is the heir.  Let's kill him, and the inheritance will be ours."  The men killed the son.  "What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them?  He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others."  The people who heard this story responded, "May this never be!"  Jesus said, "Then what is the meaning of that which is written: The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone?  Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed."  The leaders were looking for a way to arrest Him because they knew that He was speaking directly to their actions and beliefs.  They were afraid of the people. 

The story represents God as the owner, the vineyard is Israel, the servant's are the prophets, the man's son is Jesus and the tenant farmers are the religious leaders.  How many prophets had God's people turned away from?  This pattern has been going on since the beginning and I tell you is still going on today, it will continue until the end.  This parable answered the leader's question about His authority and it showed that Jesus knew about their plan to kill Him.  Jesus showed the leaders that His rejection had been prophesied in scripture.  Jesus quoted Psalm 118:22 that ignoring the capstone or cornerstone was a dangerous decision.  Those that fall on the stone will be broken to pieces means that those that bow to God will be broken.  We think that if we value something we would never want it broken.  Broken is a good thing here, He will break our pride, our foolishness, our misconceptions and free us from our chains.  This is extremely hard to do, but essential if we want to have a relationship with Him.  When a seed is planted it has to die to self and be broken open to be able to grow into a mighty oak tree.  Without this process the seed will die and produce nothing.  Those whom the rock falls will be crushed means those unwilling to bow down will be judged and punished. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Praying for the enemy

A week ago we were shook out of our normal routine when two men decided to bomb the Boston Marathon.  There are many countries that go through these events on a weekly basis, but in the US we are not accustomed to them as often.  Praise God they are both off the streets and are being kept from creating more damage.  Many will condemn this young man to hell. 

I hope that you will look into what the bible has to say:

Matthew 5:44 "Love your enemies and pray for those that persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven." 

Romans 12:14 "Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse."

Proverbs 25:21-22 "If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.  In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you."

These are some of the verses that say we are to love, pray and help our enemies.  In Proverbs 25:22 where it says "heap burning coals on their head" seems harsh, but I believe that the burning coals are God's love and that is what it feels like to the demonic spirit that is trying to lead that person.  Love is the enemy to demons.  What the enemy meant for harm, God can turn to His glory.  There were many in Boston offering strangers food, water and even a place to spend the night.  At the end if verse 22 it says "God will reward you."  God knows that he is asking something very difficult for us to do and that if we do it He will give us a reward because of our faithfulness.
Every night during my prayers I pray for terrorists (anyone who inflicts terror upon one person or many, this is not defined by their location, race or beliefs).  My prayers nightly are not easy to pray, but that is what the Holy Spirit has put on my heart to pray for and I will not go against that.   

Besides forgiveness, praying for our enemies is one of the hardest things we are called to do.  Many that choose to forgive would not dare pray for God to bless those that hurt them, yet that is what we must do.  If you do both it's a one-two knockout to the enemy.  This young man followed his older brother into a nightmare plan.  I am praying that he will find God before his death.  This tragedy does not make sense.  The devil's plan doesn't make sense, he wants to destroy and I believe laughs in the face of our despair.  When we stand up and show love in the face of evil the enemy has no response.  I pray for the families that have lost loved ones or have had loved ones injured and this young man too.

You might not agree with this post and that is ok, my heart was heavy today and I felt a need to share.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Luke 19:28-48

v. 28-44 Jesus was continuing His journey to Jerusalem.  He sent two disciples to get a colt that had never been ridden and if anyone asked they were supposed to say that the Lord needs it.  The disciples put their cloaks on the colt and then Jesus got on the colt to ride into town.  As He went the people were throwing down their cloaks on the road in front of Him.  As they came near the road that goes down from the Mount of Olives, the entire crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:  "Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!  Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!"  Some of the Pharisees in the crowd told Jesus to rebuke His disciples.  Jesus replied, "I tell you, if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out."  As they approached Jerusalem and saw the city, He wept over it and said, "If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace-but now it is hidden from your eyes.  The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side.  They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls.  They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God's coming to you."

By this time Jesus was well known.  The people were coming to celebrate the Passover feast and were excited to see Him.  Palm Sunday is to celebrate when Jesus rode in town, the people also were using palm branches to celebrate His arrival.  Zechariah 9:9 said that the King would ride on the back of a colt, which was a young donkey.  Later when it was certain that Jesus was not going to be the King that defeated Rome, the people turned against Him.  The Pharisees were being challenged for their power and authority and they did not like that idea at all.  I like the part where Jesus says that if the disciples kept quiet then the stones will cry out.  Several months ago I had a thought that what if our lack of sharing the gospel and God's love made the earth cry out.  People tend to blame God for nature disasters.  What if the earth is crying out due to our lack of action for the Kingdom?  Maybe earthquakes, tornado's, hurricanes, etc. are the response from the earth to our inactivity.  You might think that is crazy and that is perfectly ok, but here Jesus says that the stones will cry out.  What do you think that means?  After reading the bible, there is nothing that is impossible with God.  It is making me think differently about natural disasters. 

God did not turn away from those that believed in Him, but because they turned from Him the people would suffer.  About 40 years after Jesus died, His words would come true.  In 66 A.D. the Jews revolted against Rome, three years later Titus, son of Emperor Vespasian was sent to crush the rebellion.  The Roman soldiers attacked Jerusalem and broke through a wall of the city but still could not take the city at that time.  In 70 A.D. they were able to enter the already weakened city.  Six hundred thousand Jews were killed during this long battle.  Jesus wept because He knew His people had a choice and they decided to turn away from God.  There had been many who were healed by Jesus during His ministry and many more who saw His miracles.  Not even a generation later the people had turned away from God once again.  I can only imagine what it was like after Jesus left earth.  The Pharisees probably went right back to their strict rules and did not teach the people to love God.  So that every person in the city had a hard heart.  Such a quick turn around from when the Son of Man was right there in their lives.  Many times when a tragedy occurs people turn to God, but then live moves on, life gets back to normal and many drift away from Him again. 

v. 45-48 Jesus then entered the temple area and started driving out those who were selling, "It is written, My house will be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of robbers."  Jesus was teaching at the temple every day and yet the religious leaders were trying to find a way to kill Him.  He was so favored with the people that they couldn't find a way to get rid of Him without making themselves look bad.  They were more worried about their reputation then killing someone.  These leaders did not want Jesus to stir up trouble and get Rome's attention, they feared there would be more Roman control if there was a rebel presence in that area.  Jesus was messing up their money making racket in the temple, the sellers would gouge the people with extremely high prices for their sin offerings.  Jesus seemed to be calm most of the time, in this He was angered.  It's fine to make a living with the gift's God has given, but honest business practices will be pleasing to God.  Jesus was preaching against injustice and favoring the poor over the rich.  Which the Pharisees opposed, this got at one of the core problems with their rules and actions.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Luke 19:11-27

v. 11-27 Jesus was near Jerusalem and the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once so he told this parable.  "A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king.  So he called his servants and gave them ten minas, 'Put this money to work until I come back.'"  The servants hated him and said they did not want him to be king.  He was made king and when he returned home he sent for his servants to see what interest the money had earned.  The first servant said that he earned ten more mina.  He was praised by the king for being trustworthy in a very small matter and given ten cities.  The second servant said that he earned five more mina, the king gave him five cities.  The third servant came to him and said that he had made no interest on the money because he kept it hidden.  He said he was afraid of the king and that he was a hard man.  The king said "I will judge you by your own words, you wicked servant!  You knew, did you, that I am a hard man, taking out what I did not put in, and reaping what I did not sow?  Why then didn't you put my money on deposit, so that when I came back, I could have collected it with interest?"  Then he told those standing near by to take his mina away and give it to the servant who had ten minas.  "I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what he has will be taken away."

The people were looking for a king who would take back their country from Rome, not an eternal King that they could not even imagine.  Jesus was showing that His kingdom would not come like they thought, nor would it come right away.  He had to go away for some time and His followers were to be faithful and productive in His absence.  We have a choice on earth to share what we know with others, yet as we can see the servants did not make the same amount of interest on their money.  Some give 100% to the cause and others might only give 40% or 60%.  This last servant gave nothing so that he would lose nothing in return or so he thought.   Do not be afraid to share what God has done in your life, our reward will be based on our devotion to the task.  We are given gifts to use while here and we will be asked in the end what we did with them.  There are recurring themes all throughout the bible.  I'm losing count of how many time Jesus has said that those who have will be given more and those that have nothing, even that will be taken away from them.  I think we are hard headed by nature and maybe that is why He is repeating Himself so much!

Why was the king so hard on this man:
  • he didn't share his master's interest in the kingdom
  • he didn't trust his master's intentions
  • his only concern was for himself
  • he did nothing to use the money
                                                                                                                                                  NIV notes

Friday, April 19, 2013

Luke 19:1-10

v. 1-10 Jesus was passing through Jericho.  There was a man by the name of Zacchaeus who was the chief tax collector and was very rich.  He wanted to see Jesus and was short so he couldn't see and he ran ahead of the crowd and climbed a tree.  Jesus looked up at him and said, "Zacchaeus, come down immediately.  I must stay at your house today."  When the people saw that they muttered "He has gone to be the guest of a sinner."  Zacchaeus said to Jesus "Look, Lord!  Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount."  Jesus said, "Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham.  For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost."

Despite the obstacles, Zacchaeus was determined to see Jesus.  Jesus recognized a man who was driven and picked his house to visit that day.  It was customary for the host to invite the guest, yet here it was the other way around.  Did Jesus hear his heart calling what his mouth could not say?  God is looking for those that go above and beyond what the rest are doing.  He wants eager people who will find a way to get to Him, not people who are complacent and are going through the motions.  People tend to judge others so easily, yet they do not hold the same standards for themselves.  The man did not care what the other people said about him or he probably would have never showed up that day to see Jesus.  He was radically changed and didn't care who knew it.  He told Jesus that he would give half of his possessions to the poor, which is way more than required by the law.  He was giving with his heart not out of obligation.  He also said that if he wronged anyone he would repay them four times the amount.  Here is a man who right away pulled a 180 in his life and was changed for the better. 

"Zacchaeus demonstrated inward change by outward action."
                                                                                                                                                  NIV notes

Jesus called this man a son of Abraham and that he was lost, which probably made the people furious.  They would not want to think the tax collector was one of them, a son of Abraham.  They also probably were offended that Jesus would call a son of Abraham lost.  Your not saved by good heritage or condemned by a bad one.  Many who don't know Jesus are offended when told that they are lost because they do not see it that way.  I think a lot of people are trying to share how they felt before Jesus came into their lives.  Saying they were lost and now found is a good description.  You will not think that you are lost before you are ready to be found.

Tax collectors were Jews who decided to work for Rome and they were hated by other Jews.  They were considered traitors since they were known for getting rich off of gouging their fellow Jews.  In every country there are certain groups who are considered "untouchable" or "especially wicked" because of their immoral behavior, political views or their lifestyle.  Jesus loves those people that the world thinks are undeserving. 


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Luke 18:15-43

v. 15-17 "People were also bringing babies to Jesus to have Him touch them.  When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them.  But Jesus called the children to Him and said, 'Let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.  I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.'"  It was customary for a mother to bring their child to a rabbi for a blessing so these people were not doing anything out of the ordinary.  The disciples rebuked them for taking up Jesus' time.  Rebuke means: to express sharp, stern disapproval of; reprove or reprimand.  Have you ever meet a Christian who tends to rebuke your actions, yet ignoring their own?  There are those who think they have authority and yet have none at all.  Jesus told the disciples to not hinder the children, do not let obstacles get in your way of getting to know God.  Jesus never turned away children.  Those with childlike faith to believe in something they can't see will be welcomed.  Do you remember when you were a child and you believed in things you couldn't see?  A child's imagination is limitless.  If you are young, do not let adults limit your heart and your mind.  That goes for us adults too, don't take away a child's ability to really see.  Those who need proof before they believe will often see too late that they missed something special.  

v. 18-30 A rich young man came to Jesus and asked what he should do to inherit eternal life.  Jesus replied "You know the commandments: Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother."  The man relied that he had kept all the commandments since he was young.  When Jesus heard this He said, "You still lack one thing.  Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in Heaven.  Then come, follow me."  The man was very sad when he heard what Jesus had said because he had great wealth.  Jesus said to him "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!  Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."  Some people asked who could be saved.  The disciples said that they had left everything to follow Jesus.  "I tell you the truth," Jesus said "no one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age and, in the age to come, eternal life."

The man had done everything he thought of, but wanted to know if there was anything else that he could do.  Jesus knew his heart and asked him to do something that would be extremely hard.  It seems this man chose to not sell everything to follow Jesus.  What a missed opportunity!  Good works without a Kingdom view are dead works.  There is nothing that we can do on our own to earn eternity.  Salvation can't be earned, it is a gift from God.  You may be asked to give up what makes you secure and what you attach you identity to.  It is worth it!  This man would have been more secure with Jesus than with all his wealth.  Jesus does not ask all believers to sell everything, although we might be asked to give up things that are dear to us.  We are to get rid of anything that puts up a barrier to God.  Jesus said that those who follow Him will receive many times as much in this age and the age to come.  Many faithful die destitute so this isn't meaning wealth necessarily.  What God gives us could never compare to the world's wealth.   

The verse about the camel going through the eye of a needle is easier than a rich man getting into Heaven always seemed to confuse me.  It makes it seem like it is impossible for a rich person to get into Heaven.  As usual Jesus' teaching had multiple meanings.  The eye of the needle is said to describe a gate in Jerusalem, which opened after the main gate was closed at night. A camel could only pass through this smaller gate if it was stooped and had its baggage removed. 

A perfect example of how we are supposed to come to God. 
  • we are at the door, we must only knock and it will be opened
  • our baggage from our past needs to be removed first in order to fit through the gate
  • only by getting on our knees can we pass through
  • by humbling ourselves in the darkness, we can enter
Do not dwell on what you are giving up, when you look back you see that it was never worth it in the first place.  The disciples all paid a high price to follow Jesus. 

v. 31-34 Jesus told the disciples that what the prophets wrote about Him would be fulfilled in Jerusalem.  "He will be handed over to the Gentiles.  They will mock Him, insult Him, spit on Him, flog Him and kill Him.  On the third day He will rise again."  The meaning of this was hidden from the disciples.  Even though Jesus spoke this to them several times, they would not grasp the significance until they saw Him after he was resurrected.  When the movie "The Passion" came out, many were offended that the Jewish crowd chanted for Jesus to die.  I believe they changed that one line after that dispute.  Here Jesus says that He will be given over to the Gentiles (non-Jews).  Yes, many of the Jewish leaders wanted Jesus dead.  It was the final decision of the Roman governor Pilate. 

v. 35-43 A blind man was sitting on the side of the road begging.  When he found out Jesus was there he called out "Son of David, have mercy on me!"  Those with Jesus rebuked him and told him to be quiet, he shouted all the same.  Jesus healed this man after he persisted and did not give up.  Beggars often would sit by the side of the road near cities because that is where they would have the most access to people.  This man was unable to make a living so he had to beg.  This man had hope and no matter what people said he was not going to give up until he got to Jesus.  The man knew Jesus was the Messiah because he called out to the Son of David.  What a poor and blind man could see was something that the sighted religious leaders refused to recognize.  Are you noticing a pattern with the disciples?  As with many today, those that can not see want to deny what others can.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Luke 18:1-14

v. 1-8 "Jesus told the disciples a parable to show that they should always pray and not give up."  The story was about a judge who did not fear God or care about men.  There was a woman in town who would continually go to the judge to ask for justice against her adversary.  The judge finally decided to help her since she was persistent and would not give up.  Jesus said "Will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to Him day and night?  Will He keep putting them off?  I tell you, He will see that they get justice, and quickly.  However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?" 

"If we persist in prayer then we grow in character, faith, and hope."
                                                                                                                                                  NIV notes

We are to pray at all times and keep our petitions before God.  We are also to believe that He will answer those prayers.  Widows and orphans were some of the most vulnerable people in the bible, both Old and New Testament prophets said that we should take care of them.  If an unjust judge can respond to constant pressure then how much more will God respond since His love is so great for us.  This is sometimes hard to hear since there are many that are not delivered out of their situation right away or for many years.  I do not have an answer to that.  What I know is those that believe in God will be taken care of and have an eternal home one day.  Our heartache here will turn into great love in Heaven.  When Jesus says "When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?"  I think how sad because there are so many who have this information in the bible and choose to have faith in other things.  That is why I believe it is so important to have faith despite the persistent lack around the world.

v. 9- 14 There were those who were confident in their own righteousness and looked down on others.  Jesus told this parable about them.  "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.  The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself; 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men-robbers, evildoers, adulterers-or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.'" Now it was the tax collectors turn.  "But the tax collector stood at a distance.  He would not even look up to Heaven, but beat his chest and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.'"  "I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God.  For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."

The people would go to pray at the temple so there were probably others around when they prayed.  I think the majority of the Pharisees went to the temple to announce how holy they were instead of praying to God.  The tax collectors were considered "sinners" back then so the Pharisees had a low opinion of them.  Works of the flesh are dead works and have no meaning in God's economy. 

The difference between these two men:

  • he was proud and prayed about how good he was
  • probably prayed loudly for all to hear
  • said God's name for self recognition only
  • pointed out how good he was compared to "sinners"
  • proclaimed his good works of fasting and tithing
Tax collector
  • he stood at a distance and would not even look up to heaven
  • he was humble before God
  • he beat his chest in agony
  • he recognized his sin
  • he asked God to have mercy on him
  • he did not point out other sinners
"Self righteousness is dangerous.  It leads to pride, causes a person to despise others, and prevents him or her from learning anything from God.  The tax collector's prayer should be our prayer because we all need God's mercy everyday.  Don't let pride in your achievements cut you off from God."
                                                                                                                                                  NIV notes

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Quote - normal people

"The only normal people you know are the ones you don't know very well."



This quote is so true.  We think that we know people so well then when they do something that is "out of character" we are shocked.  I think that we don't really know most people at all.  Some are very good at hiding what is inside for fear what others would think.  We see what is on the outside, but God sees what is in our hearts.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Luke 17:20-37

v. 20-37 The Pharisees asked Jesus when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, "The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, 'Here it is,' or 'There it is,' because the kingdom of God is within you."  Then He told the disciples "The time is coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it.  Men will tell you, 'There He is!' or 'Here He is!'  Do not go running off after them.  For the Son of Man in His day will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other.  But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.  Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man.  People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark.  Then the flood came and destroyed them all.  It was the same in the days of Lot.  People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building.  But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all.  It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed.  On that day no one who is on the roof of his house, with his goods inside, should go down to get them.  Remember Lot's wife!  Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.  I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left.  Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left."  The disciples asked where.  Jesus said "Where there is a dead body, there the vultures will gather."

The Pharisees wanted to know when God's kingdom would come, they did not know that it was already here.  God's kingdom boundaries are not like our land boundaries.  His kingdom is visible when you can see people's hearts pouring out to help others.  The Kingdom had come which meant that with Jesus' death and resurrection we would have the Holy Spirit with us at all times.  Over the years many wait to see signs and sometimes they will never see them in their lifetime.  Many have claimed to be the Messiah and people blindly follow.  I tell you the devil is having a field day here misleading people.  When the anti-Christ comes the people will be deceived in large numbers.  Do not be fooled by anyone telling you that Jesus has come back.  Jesus gave warning that such things would happen in the future.  When Jesus returns all will know that something has changed, we will not have to tell anyone since it will be so amazing that there will be no doubt.  It is beautiful to watch lighting, yet when Jesus returns I believe it will be unlike any lightning show we have ever seen before.  Everyone around the world will see and that probably means that it will be a global show of His glory. 

Life will be going on just the same as any other day.  That is what happened during Noah & Lot's time.  No one knows when Jesus will return, we are to be ready at all times.  Jesus had to go through great agony for each of us and be rejected by His generation.  How many in each generation have rejected Him?  He will come swiftly and we are to prepared.  I am not going to get into Revelation stuff now, there are many different ideas for the end times.  There will be many in the same household that will be divided in their beliefs and this shows what will happen.  I will dive into Revelations later down the road.  I believe it is one of the most amazing books in the bible because it hasn't happened yet and the mental images are astounding for a visual person like me.  Although it can scare the heck out of you if you jump into it right after you start reading the bible.  If one vulture circles overhead it doesn't mean much, but if many gather there must be a carcass nearby.  Likewise, one sign of the end might not be that significant.  When many signs occur then the second coming is near.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Luke 17:1-19

v. 1-2 Jesus said to his disciples: "Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come.  It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin."  Jesus gave warning to those that hurt children.  I don't think there is much worse than someone hurting a child.  With all the stories in the news of people hurting children I usually think of this verse.  We are to protect them from danger, be on guard to what they watch on TV, what they are doing online and their choice of friends.  With the Internet children are being hurt on a larger scale.  God knows that if the enemy can damage us as children there is a good change that it will be harder to get past that to really get to know Him.  The wounds in childhood are deep and lasting.  Although healing is possible and you will no longer be defined by what someone has done to you, if you let Him in.

I also think this applies to those that hurt Christians.  We are God's little ones and He does not like when others hurt us.  Beware if you are in a position of authority and misuse your power, you will be held accountable for it one day. 

v. 3-4 "So watch yourselves.  If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him.  If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, 'I repent,' forgive him."  That is why we need to forgive and not hold onto anger.  We have a Father who is more than capable of taking care of the problem areas in our life.  To rebuke someone is supposed to bring attention to the sin so that they can be restored to God, not to just point out what they did wrong.  Before you rebuke someone else make sure you are coming from a place of love and not condemnation.

v. 5-50 The apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith!"  Jesus replied "If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it will obey you."  Jesus continues to speak about a master and how he treats his servant.  He would not ask the servant to sit and eat with him because that is not the servants place.  "Would he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do?  So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, 'We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.'"  Like a mustard seed faith starts small and if you allow it to grow it will slowly take root.  Once established, faith will not be uprooted and will be able to destroy competing loyalties.  Although you have to be on guard for forces that want to eat away at the roots to cause the tree to become weak and die.

"If we have obeyed God we have only done our duty and we should regard it as a privilege.  Obedience is not something extra we do; it is our duty.  He is attacking unwarranted self-esteem and spiritual pride."                                                                                                                         NIV notes

v. 11-19 Jesus was traveling to Jerusalem and in a village there were ten men with leprosy.  They called out to Him and said "Jesus, Master, have pity on us!"  Jesus said "Go, show yourselves to the priests."  They were healed.  "One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice.  He threw himself at Jesus' feet and thanked Him-and he was a Samaritan.  Jesus asked 'Were not all ten cleansed?  Where are the other nine?  Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?  Rise and go; your faith has made you well.'"  Because leprosy was contagious, people were required to stay away from others and had to announce their presence to come close.  Is your faith so strong that you can act on what God says even before you see evidence that it will work?  Only one returned to give thanks to God.  I think that only 10% of the men came back to give thanks is indicative of the percentage of people that receive a gift or healing and don't give thanks to God for what they received.   It is possible to receive God's gifts and healing with an ungrateful spirit.  I think God is glad when we come to Him to give thanks because so many quit when they get what they wanted.  Luke was Greek and was writing for a Greek audience so saying that the only man to come to give thanks was a Samaritan might have been very significant
to non Jews.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Photo - Majestic Clouds

This is a beautiful picture that I love to look at whenever I get a chance.  It's as if the clouds are a rolling river through the mountains.  I am not sure of the location of this picture, but I would be enthralled having that as a scene out the window every day.  God's glory shines down among us in beautiful splendor.

NASA has wonderful pictures on their site from all over our universe, here is the website http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/imagegallery/iotd.html.

Luke 16:19-31

v. 19-31 Jesus tells the story about the rich man and the beggar "There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day.  At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man's table.  The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham's side.  The rich man also died and was buried.  In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side.  So he called to him, 'Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.'  But Abraham replied, 'Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony.  And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.'  He answered, 'Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father's house, for I have five brothers.  Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.'  Abraham replied 'They have Moses and the Prophets, let them listen to them.'  He said 'No, father Abraham, if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.'  Abraham said to him, 'If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.'"

"The Pharisees considered wealth to be a proof of a person's righteousness.  The rich man did not go to hell because he was wealthy but because he was selfish, refusing to feed Lazarus, take him in, or care for him.  The amount of money we have is not as important as the way we use it."        NIV notes

This rich man was thinking only of himself when he refused to help out the beggar.  Then when the men died they seemed to switch places compared to how they lived on earth.  There are those who never knew who God was before they died and I believe that they will have the opportunity to change.  Although that is no excuse to mistreat people while they are living.  It is so important to get right with God now instead of waiting for another day.  This Lazarus was not the same one that Jesus brought back from the dead.  I think that the fact that the rich man knew Lazarus' name was very interesting.  Even a stranger deserves better, yet how much worse is it when we know there name and do nothing.  How many will help out someone they don't know but will not lift a finger to help out family or friends?

There is no ability to change sides after all is said and done.  There is a chasm between the two places and no one can get to the other side even if they were desperate and full of regret.  A chasm is: a yawning fissure or deep cleft in the earth's surface, a gorge, a marked interruption of continuity, a gap.  This rich man wanted Lazarus to be sent to his brothers to warn them against the path they were on.  Abraham told him no, if they did not listen to the prophets that spoke on taking care of the poor then they would not listen to someone coming back from the dead. A bit of irony since Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem to die and when he was raised from the dead the religious leaders still would not accept Him. 

We have churches on almost every corner in America and there are still many who choose to not hear and will be like the rich man begging for relief if they do not change their ways.  That says volumes that even if someone came back from the dead the man's brothers would still not believe.  There are many that have near death experiences and are forever changed because of it.  We go about our business and just say that the brain shows them what they have seen.  Yet, until something of the spirit realm happens to you it will be easy to deny that it would ever happen to others.  The ones who come back do so for a reason to give us hope and warning.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Luke 16:1-18

v. 1-15 Jesus tells of a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions.  So the manager went to the master's debtors and asked how much they owned his master.  For each debtor he reduced the debt.  The master had commended the dishonest manager because he acted shrewdly.  "For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light.  I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.  Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.  So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?  And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else's property, who will give you property of your own?  No servant can serve two masters.  Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve both God and Money.  The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus.  He said to them 'You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts.  What is highly valued among men is detestable in God's sight.'"

The manager was said to be shrewd, the definition is: keen, artful, bad, and malicious.  "Now here’s a surprise: The master praised the crooked manager! And why? Because he knew how to look after himself. Streetwise people are smarter in this regard than law-abiding citizens. They are on constant alert, looking for angles, surviving by their wits. I want you to be smart in the same way—but for what is right—using every adversity to stimulate you to creative survival, to concentrate your attention on the bare essentials, so you’ll live, really live, and not complacently just get by on good behavior."  The Message

Our money is a good test of whether or not we put God first in our lives.  God gave us what we have and we are supposed to make wise choices with it.  We are to use our money to gain friends instead of greed.  Which I believe means to be kind and help people not to show off how much money we make.  When we gain friends we are truly rich and will be welcomed into the Kingdom.  Those who are dishonest with little will be dishonest with a great amount.  How are you with your money?  Are you generous or selfish?  Would you help out someone in need or go buy yourself something you have been wanting lately?  Some look to money as if it were a god, they crave power and control.  You have to choose which one you will allow to lead you in life, God or money.  It is interesting that in the NIV version Money is capitalized.  It is not equal to God, but I think it shows the great influence that it has over people.  The Pharisees were sneering (which means: scorn, contempt, derision, ridicule) at Jesus for how he was talking about money, yet God found their love of money detestable since their heart's were hard to the needy.  Wealth is not a sign of God's approval.  Do not let your worth be determined by your bank account.

v. 17 "It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law."  Jesus came to fulfill the law not cancel out the Old Testament.  I believe every part of the bible.  You can not pick and choose what you will believe or follow because it is all true.  It is our guide and warning for our lives so that we can prosper and learn. 

v. 18 "Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery."  The Pharisees permitted a man to leave his wife for almost any reason and since the women were not able to go out and support themselves they would have to move back in with their families.  I'm not going into detail about this subject now, I will wait for another day since this is such a short subject here.  I believe Jesus was challenging the Pharisees to what was behind their thinking of the Law.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Fill in the Blank

Have you ever thought - I am only good for ________________(fill in the blank).  Whether it's just to do damage, be a loser, be a cheater, be worthless, being beat up, etc.  I have heard many people say this.  We get stuck as if there is a repeating CD in our head that has been playing for decades.  You see what ever you fill in the blank with it is just that to God, a blank.  He is not afraid of the blanks because He can work with any belief, misconception or damage that we have self inflicted or that someone else has caused.   If you are under any label other than free, I pray you will seek out the ONLY ONE who can help you.  I had a few blanks that I believe for years, yet one day I found someone who said no to the blanks and showed me love despite my beliefs.  You might say, but you don't know what I have done or been through.  I have heard some of the most amazing testimonies in the last few years.  Whether you believed you were Jesus walking in gang infested streets, your child was taken from you or you were abused or the one abusing others.  You see these people had some things in common.  They were in positions that most of us would never think we would end up in, the devil using every weapon in his arsenal to attack them, they found love from someone that is unseen, they were forever changed and are living out their faith every day.  I think these people are brave, they get up every morning to face to day and can still find joy in life.  My story pales in comparison to theirs so I have great respect for them.  I look up to those who have come out of the storms of life with peace. 

You see, you can't out sin God's ability to heal you.

Do not let someone else pen your story. 

Monday, April 1, 2013

Luke 15:11-32

v. 11-32 Jesus said "There was a man who had two sons.  The younger one said to his father, 'Father, give me my share of the estate.'  So he divided his property between them.  Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living."  After he spent everything there was a severe famine and he hired himself out to a pig farmer.  He was so desperate that he wanted to eat the food that was given to the pigs.  He longed to return home so he set out to see his father.  "But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.  The son said 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.  I am no longer worthy to be called your son.'"  The father had his servants get the best robe to put on his son, put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.  They had a feast for the returned son.  "The older son was in the field.  When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing.  So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on.  'Your brother has come, and your father had killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.'  The older brother became angry and refused to go in.  So his father went out and pleaded with him.  '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.  But when this son of yours who has squandered your property comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!  My son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.  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.'"

The parables Jesus told had several meanings and this is no exception.  This story talks about the lost son who left then can home which is all of us who decide to come to the Father and the older son was the Pharisees who couldn't believe that God would celebrate sinners into His kingdom.  This son was selfish and rebellious.  He must have broke his father's heart, but the father still gave him his inheritance.  This young son left and squandered the money that his father gave him.  The son wanted to be free and lived as he pleased, but there is always a price that in most cases we would never really be willing to pay in the end.  Like many when they hit rock bottom the only direction left is to look up. 

Then he was faced with a decision to go back home humiliated or try and find work.  He went to work feeding pigs.  The Jewish people thought pigs were unclean so having to work with them must have been the lowest job anywhere.  He was so hungry that he wanted to eat the pigs food which put him in the depths of despair.  He was willing to humble himself before his father, yet his father ran to him and showed that he was thankful for him coming home.  The idea that God would run to me after I was away for so long is one of the reasons that I am in awe of Him.  He will not force us to Him, but He is always near waiting for the day that we will return and is full of joy when it happens. 

"In the two preceding stories, the seeker actively looked for the coin and the sheep, which could not return by themselves.  In this story the father watched and waited.  He was dealing with a human being with a will of his own, but was ready to greet his son when he returned.  God's love is constant and patient.  He will search for us and give us opportunities to respond, but He will not force us to come to Him.  The sheep was lost because it foolishly wandered away; the coin was lost through no fault of its own; and the son left out of selfishness.  God's great love reaches out and finds sinners no matter why or how they got lost."                                                                                             NIV notes

A lessor talked about part of the story is the older brother.  I believe this is very important also.  The older brother represents the Pharisees, anyone who is proud, sometimes actual family members, those who can't believe someone else is worthy of being saved because of what they have done.  There are those who do things right, but who are bitter.  When that happens they cut themselves off from love.  This older brother could not be happy that his younger brother returned because all he saw was how unfair he had been treated and his brother should not be celebrated for getting a second chance.  He did not want to forgive his brother.  Do not let anything hold you back from forgiving someone.  If you have thought: How can God forgive those especially wicked sinners?  I would never do that!  Then this story is for you.  When someone turns to the Father we should celebrate them, not look down at them and think they don't deserve it.  The fact is none of us deserve God's favor, yet he gives it anyway just like the father in the story.  He knows we may fall away for a time, but when we come home there is such an amazing celebration that the angels rejoice!

Sometimes what appears to be the worse sinners are actually the best representatives for God.