Paul’s Plea to Philemon

 We’re running a bit ahead of schedule this week for Luke 16, so we thought it would be a good time to take a look at Paul’s epistle to Philemon.

Paul’s letter to Philemon was a personal one, but it was also one that he intended to be read to the entire church, as they met in his home (verse 2). Philemon was a wealthy Christian in Colossae, and Paul probably befriended him during his three years in Ephesus, which was about 161 kilometers away. One of his bondservants, Onesimus, had run away, possibly even stealing some money from him (verses 18-19).

Philemon (New Testament person)

Philemon (New Testament person) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In a fortuitous coincidence, or more probably God’s providence, Onesimus had ended up in Rome while he was hiding, and had come into contact with Paul while he was in prison there. Presumably, it was during his first imprisonment there, and the letter was probably written about 62 A.D. – about the time that he wrote to Ephesus. After meeting Paul, Onesimus had become a Christian. Now Paul was sending him back to Philemon with the request that he receive his bondservant as he would receive Paul, and that he now should consider him a beloved brother.

Paul would have liked for Onesimus to stay and continue to help him while he was in prison, but he needed things to be made right between the two of them. Paul’s confidence that Philemon would respect his wishes and go beyond even what Paul was asking of him comes though loud and clear in this letter. Secular tradition has it that this same Onesimus became an important leader in the church. Whether that is true, we do not know for sure. But it seems that it was God’s will for Philemon’s forgiveness, the growth of brotherly love, and the service of Onesimus to make a difference in their lives, and in the lives of those in the church there. It was a great lesson in the providence and power of God in the lives of all those Christians.

It is notable that in this, the shortest epistle Paul had written, one of the people who Paul sends greetings from is Demas (verses 23-24). The letter was before Demas’ love for “this present world” had caused him to desert Paul and go to Thesslonica (2 Timothy 4:10).

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Luke here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 1 Chronicles here

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  

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The Rich Man and Lazarus – (Luke 16)

Lazarus at the rich man's gate.

Lazarus at the rich man’s gate.

Jesus begins the story of the rich man and Lazarus in verse 19. For the record, Lazarus was a fairly common name, and it is mere coincidence that he has the same name as the brother of Martha and Mary, who Jesus raised from the dead in John 11:38-44. That Lazarus was a real man, and a friend to Jesus. This one is a character in a parable. Lazarus, a poor man who was covered with sores, had a habit of posting himself at the rich man’s gate, hoping to get a few scraps from the rich man’s table. The significance of the dogs that came and licked his sores is that he was exposed to the elements, and to wild animals. These were not AKC registered pets.

Lazarus died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. Then the rich man died was buried, and was in Hades in torment. He asks Abraham to send Lazarus to dip his finger in water to cool his tongue. Significantly, he still had no regard for the poor man, but looked on him as someone to serve him. But Abraham told him that their roles were reversed now. The poor man, who had known nothing of comfort was receiving his comfort now, in contrast to the anguish of the rich man. Abraham also pointed to a chasm that separated them, so that neither could cross to the other side.

Lazarus, not the brother of Mary and Martha, but another man by that name, was very poor. He lay near the table of a rich man and begged for scraps of food to be thrown to him. But Lazarus loved God and the rich man didn't, so Lazarus went to heaven and the rich man went to hell (Luke 16:19-31).

Lazarus, not the brother of Mary and Martha, but another man by that name, was very poor. He lay near the table of a rich man and begged for scraps of food to be thrown to him. But Lazarus loved God and the rich man didn’t, so Lazarus went to heaven and the rich man went to hell (Luke 16:19-31).

The rich man then asks Abraham to send Lazarus to warn his brothers, so that they will repent, reasoning that they will listen to someone who was raised from the dead. But Abraham said that if they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be convinced even by someone being raised from the dead. That is just so. Jesus Himself had been witnessed by some after He arose that also were not convinced to repent. There is a mistaken belief by many that the eyewitness of a miracle would convince an unbeliever, but we see over and over again in scripture that this is simply not true. Many of the Pharisees witnessed great miracles, and still plotted the death of Jesus. Those who are stoically predisposed not to believe will find an explanation within themselves that will reinforce their unbelief.

We must be careful about the descriptions of the circumstances of the rich man and Lazarus after they died. Remember that this is a parable. That does not mean that there are not aspects that can be equated to what the reality will be. But the clear picture we have seen in paintings and illustrations of this dividing line between the two probably does not accurately tell that story. The point is that the comfort and security that belongs to those who are saved will be totally unavailable to those who are lost.

Significant also is the fact that Abraham offers no hope at all to the rich man. That is because for those in that situation, there will no longer be any hope. Man has his entire life to act as a child of God. Once that life is done, the opportunity ends. A terrible tragedy, but one of which we have been repeatedly forewarned. If we do not believe it enough to obey, that is our own fault.

The love of this rich man for money and his ignoring the plight of this poor man so plainly close and available to easily be helped by his great wealth illustrates very well the lesson Jesus taught in the parable of the dishonest manager that this chapter opened with. His downfall was his love of money, at the exclusion of what is important. No man can serve God and money.

 

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Luke here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 1 Chronicles here

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  

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Justification – (Luke 16)

Jesus had just told the parable of the dishonest manager, saying that you cannot serve God and money. Then we find in verse 14 that the Pharisees (who the text says were lovers of money) ridiculed Him. What follows this ridicule begins with Jesus giving it back to them in righteous rebuke. But then it appears that He drifts to a couple of unrelated and random subjects. But are they really?

English: Jesus disputes with the Pharisees. Fr...

English: Jesus disputes with the Pharisees. French School. In the Bowyer Bible in Bolton Museum, England. Print 3861. From “An Illustrated Commentary on the Gospel of Mark” by Phillip Medhurst. Section Q. disputes with the establishment. Mark 10:2-12, 11:27-33, 12:13-27, 12:35-37. http://pdfcast.org/pdf/an-illustrated-commentary-by-phillip-medhurst-on-the-gospel-of-mark-section-q-to-r (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

His initial answer is obviously addressed to the Pharisees because He addresses them in the second person, saying “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.” The Pharisees were very good at imposing laws on others that did not come from God, but they were equally adept at justifying whatever suited them.

So in verse 16, He tells them that “the Law and the prophets” were until John (the baptist). But then, the good news of the kingdom of God has begun to be preached. The last part of that verse is difficult, as it reads everyone forces his way into it. What this probably means is that everyone wants to get into the kingdom, but they want to do it on their own terms – rather than on God’s terms. He then says in verse 17 that it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one “dot” of the law to become void.

To put that last part into perspective, we must refer to Matthew 5:18, which says not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished, which means of course, until Jesus finishes what He came for. But the point is the rebuke of the Pharisees, who seek to justify what is an abomination to God. It was then that He pulled the next punch to illustrate the point, saying Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.Of course, we know from Matthew 5:32 that the reason of sexual immorality is an exception to this, but that is beside the point. The mere fact that men – including the Pharisees – had continued to relax their standards concerning divorce did not negate what God had ordained.

Putting this all together in that perspective, it all also flows after the parable of the unjust steward. That parable also shows how men try to justify the wrong they do when it suits them to do so. It is a logical procession that Jesus obviously saw coming before He even began that parable.

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Luke here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 1 Chronicles here

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  

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The Dishonest Manager – (Luke 16)

The “Parable of the Unjust Steward” (in some translations, it is the “dishonest manager”) is admittedly difficult to understand at a certain point. It is obvious to any honest :-) person that Jesus does not suggest that dishonesty is “commendable.” But the way that verses 8 and 9 are translated makes it difficult to precisely get the full meaning.

The steward or manager in question likely refers to a chief servant of a rich man’s household. He has been trusted with running the day to day affairs of the house, which include the buying and selling of goods produced by the land. Charges of waste by either incompetence of dishonesty (or both) are brought, and no denial is made. Instead, the steward (who knows he is losing his job) plots how he might make friends of those who are indebted to the lord of the house.

In one of Jesus' parables, an unjust steward was fired from his job. But he was shrewd, so he quickly called in his master's debtors and reduced or canceled their debts, so that he would have new friends (Luke 16:1-18).

In one of Jesus’ parables, an unjust steward was fired from his job. But he was shrewd, so he quickly called in his master’s debtors and reduced or canceled their debts, so that he would have new friends (Luke 16:1-18).

The steward conspires with several debtors to “cook the books” on each end, so that they will owe less money – reasoning that helping the debtors in this way will secure their good graces for himself in the future. Obviously, the debtors who went along with such a scheme were just as guilty as the steward.

The parable seems pretty straightforward up to that point. Then in verse 8, the lord of the house (having discovered the scheme) “commends” the steward for his shrewdness. It is pretty easy as well to understand this as a “I’ve gotta hand it to you” type of commendation. We are all smart enough to know that the lord of the house is not offering praise of approval to the man for stealing from him! The verse continues with Jesus’ own words: “For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light.”

The “sons of this world” (referred to elsewhere as “sons of darkness”) and the “sons of light” are the same two opposing groups that have existed since the fall of man (Genesis 3:15). They are referred to elsewhere, such as by  Jesus in John 12:36, and by the apostle Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:5.  Certainly, the “sons of this world” are more shrewd with their own kind.

Then comes the difficulty in verse 9:
“And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings.”

The parable of the talents, a story about faithful stewardship -- Matthew 25: 14-30.

The parable of the talents, a story about faithful stewardship — Matthew 25: 14-30.

We have read many commentaries that offer various explanations of this verse. Some are quite awful, frankly. One of the better ones says that this is sarcastic irony. There may be some validity in that analysis actually. But the most correct analysis (in our opinion) is that, properly translated, the verse fits into a rhetorical question. Some have pointed to this by such things as the combination of a subjunctive verb along with a future indicative verb in the Greek. We confess to being largely illiterate when it comes to Greek. But change the wording accordingly to “should you make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings?” and it makes perfect sense.

Obviously, the answer is no. Jesus would certainly NOT want us to make friends by using unrighteous wealth. This holds true even if you hold that “unrighteous” in this case simply refers to all material wealth, and that it doesn’t mean anything bad. Making friends with wealth is not going to get you into any eternal dwelling!

The point is missed by most commentators. This is not really a lesson about wealth. Neither is it about prudent handling of your worldly affairs (the steward was a thief)! Nor is it specifically about making prudent preparations for your spirituality. It is about honesty. And it is about where, and to what (or whom) your heart belongs.

Jesus explains that very well Himself after the parable:

“One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.”
and
“No servant can serve two masters…you cannot serve God and money.”

Nuff said?

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Luke here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 1 Chronicles here

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  

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Gatekeepers and Treasurers – 1 Chronicles 26

Among the Levites, the gatekeepers had the responsibility first and foremost of protecting the sanctuary from unlawful or unauthorized entry and defilement from such practices as idolatry. Their duties also included taking care of the temple treasuries and dedicated gifts, as well as maintenance of the building (as detailed in 1 Chronicles 9:22-32). It was likely this group that Hezekiah assembled to cleanse the temple in 2 Chronicles 29:3-11.

Ark of the Covenant.

Ark of the Covenant.

Among the gatekeepers were the families of Meshelemiah, Hoash, and Obed-edom. This is surely the same Obed-edom whose house the ark was to after the failed first attempt. It had remained there for three months (1 Chronicles 13:13-14, 2 Samuel 6:10-12).  This is significant in that Obed-edom was a Gittite (a resident of Gath). Was he a Gittite by birth geographically, but genealogically an Israelite? The Bible is silent about his participation, but we do know that the passages just cited say that God blessed his household and all that he had when the ark was left in his care. Where the Lord is concerned, that is enough.

The treasurers were from the sons of Gershom, Ladan, and other Kohathites. There were two separate treasuries that were kept near the gates. One contained the offerings and tithes of the people, while the other contained the spoils taken in battle and certain other dedicated gifts, such as  those dedicated by Samuel, Saul, David, and his commanders. The Izharites and Hebronites were appointed to oversee the territories of the Reubenites, Gadites, Manassites, and other areas west of the Jordan.

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Luke here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 1 Chronicles here

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  

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The Prodigal Son, Part 2 – (Luke 15)

The younger son traveled back home to ask his father to take him in and let him work as one of his servants. But his father saw him coming from a long way off, and he ran to meet him. Though his father embraces him, he has come with a contrite heart and acknowledges his guilt. But his father had his servants to clothe him in the best manner he could, and he arranged for a feast to celebrate the return of the son, who for all practical purposes had been dead. But now the lost one had been found.

It is just so with God. There is no sin that we can do that, with a repentant heart, God will not eagerly forgive us. As His children, He joyfully accepts us back, no matter what. And Jesus has told us twice in this chapter how much joy there is in heaven when one sinner repents.

Return of the prodigal son

Return of the prodigal son

But the older son hears the celebration, and does not come to His father, but instead speaks to a servant to find out what is going on. What does that say about his relationship with his father, especially when he, in his anger, refused to go in? Though his father comes out and “entreats him,” he still will not relent, and he makes his displeasure, disdain, and even jealousy known to his father. He degenerates his younger brother for his sins, and cannot understand why the father is treating him so well. His father wants the elder son to join them, but he also wants him to understand that it is most appropriate to be joyous and to celebrate the return of one who was lost to him.

When the chapter started, back in verse 2, the Pharisees and scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them” because Jesus was consorting with known sinners. Jesus had explained in two previous parables how much joy God has for the lost returning to him. But now He is describing the elder brother with the same attitude that the Pharisees had. They felt that they were entitled to a higher degree of regard because they had given years of service to keeping God’s law, as passed down through Moses (albeit, with much of their own agenda thrown into the mix).

God had entreated them to come in by sending his Son, but they had thus far rejected the idea in their anger and disdain for the sinners Jesus receives. The same would be true, even of other Jews, when Gentiles were openly received. The parable ended with the elder son still not coming in. Would he finally come in? The question for those Pharisees, if they heard and understood, was whether they would put away their foolish anger and pride, and come into God’s kingdom as well.

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Luke here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 1 Chronicles here

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  

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The Prodigal Son, Part 1 – (Luke 15)

Just about everyone has heard of the “parable of the prodigal son.” And many of us have heard several different sermons preached about that parable. There seems to be something different to take away from it from many perspectives. Today, we will look at the story from the viewpoint of what happened to the younger son.

The prodigal son departs

The prodigal son departs

 

It begins with the younger of two sons asking for his father to give him his share of the inheritance that he was to receive. So the father, though he had no requirement to do so, divided their property then and gave him his share. The older son, according to custom, would receive a double portion.

The younger one took his belongings, and traveled to a far off country; and he wasted his inheritance in what the scripture terms “reckless living.” After a famine occurred in the country, he had to go to work feeding pigs; and his situation became so desperate that even the pods that he was feeding the pigs began to look good to him. These pods were from the carob tree. It is only the husks that were actually edible. The seeds inside are too hard to be edible. The husks can be ground into a type of flour that has a quality like chocolate, and in fact, carob is used by many today as a substitute for chocolate. But they were usually only eaten by the poor when times were most desperate – or for feeding pigs, of course.

carob_pods_270314This younger son at this point realized how much better off he would be back at his father’s home – even by offering himself as a servant, rather than a family member. He resolved to go back and beg his father to allow him to come back under just those conditions; and he even rehearsed how he would ask for this. He realized that his circumstances were entirely his fault, and that his father had no obligation even to give him a place to stay (much less feed him) as a servant.

The younger son realized something that may not occur to us when we stray. As sinners, if we have no repentance in our hearts and our lives, God has no obligation to even hear our prayers. He may choose to do so. But he has made no promise in that respect. What a dreadful situation to be separated from God, and unable to present our petitions to Him because of the condition of our hearts. But it is evident that the results of his sin have caused a change in his heart.

Next, we’ll look a little closer at what happened when he goes to his father with this change of heart, and what that means to the elder brother.

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Luke here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 1 Chronicles here

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  

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His Sheep – (Luke 15)

sheep_270314All through the Bible, and especially in the New Testament, the analogy is made to people as sheep. Jesus told His disciples that He is the “Good Shepeherd” (John 10:1-21). He told Peter to “feed my sheep” (John 21:17). Paul charged the elders of the church at Ephesus to pay attention to the flock and to the wolves that would come to devour them (Acts 20:28-31). And Peter charged the elders to “shepherd the flock among you” (1 Peter 5:1-5). And of course, everyone has at least heard of the 23rd Psalm.

shepherd_270314The Israelites had long been a pastoral people. Sheep could be bred in large numbers, and provided meat, milk, and wool, making them an excellent choice for such people to raise. But sheep are not generally known for their intelligence. For example, a sheep will continue to graze and if allowed to, will wander far away from the herd without realizing it is getting lost.

Before the poor animal knows what has happened, it can fall prey to predators because of the lack of numbers or a shepherd to protect it. Or it may simply not be able to find its way, and wander aimlessly. The sheep and their shepherd become very close, and the sheep are wholly dependent on him. There is a bond that forms, and the sheep will absolutely respond to the mere voice of the shepherd because it trusts him.

It is this type of care for God’s people that Jesus assumed when he became flesh. And it is the same care that He expected His apostles to assume and to establish in His church. As His children, we are dependent on Him for our salvation. But it is easy for us to lose our way, and to fall prey to those who wish to harm His church. Those who assume such a role in His church should be respected and always encouraged by the rest of us. It is an awesome responsibility to care for His sheep.

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Luke here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 1 Chronicles here

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  

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Into the Streets and Lanes – (Luke 15)

Jesus continued to draw large crowds as His ministry continued. Now more than ever before, it seems the tax collectors and sinners drew nearer to Him to hear what He had to say. This of course raised the hackles on the Pharisees, who grumbled about such a scandalous thing – a supposed man of God consorting openly with those who were known to be living contrary to God’s word.

The Lost Drachma

The Lost Drachma (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jesus acknowledged their sentiment toward the subject, but did not validate it. Instead he offers the parables of the lost sheep and of the lost coin. He asks if any of them who had 100 sheep would not leave the 99 in search of one that was lost. And he spoke of the joy the woman would have over finding the lost coin.  He tells them that there is more joy in heaven over one sinner repenting than for 99 righteous people who “need no repentance.”

It was no accident that everywhere Jesus went, He attracted such people because that was what He intended to do. In Matthew 18:14, Jesus made it clear, speaking of children , that “it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.” But he said it in the context of the parable of the lost sheep in that passage. In the last chapter, Jesus told the parable of the man who gave the great banquet, and eventually sent his servant out “into the streets and the lanes,” bringing those that others have excluded to the banquet (Luke 14:21).

Jesus was doing just that. The tax collectors and the sinners that the Pharisees disdained here are the people who have been excluded in their own way. God wanted Jesus to find and save those people, and bring them to the feast. We do well to remember that Jesus said many times that he had “not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32). These are people that we too are supposed to love enough to want to help them to be saved.

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Luke here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 1 Chronicles here

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  

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The Great Commitment

 

Creator of Abor Day, Julius Sterling Morton in...

Creator of Abor Day, Julius Sterling Morton in 1858. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the last two verses of Luke chapter 14, Jesus talks about salt that has lost its flavor. Numerous explanations have been given us for how salt can lose its flavor, and some sound pretty close to accurate, while others do not (IMHO). So I am going to offer my own. Julius Sterling Morton was a philanthropist and early settler of Nebraska. Deciding that it was much too flat, he began the business of planting enormous amounts of trees there. He eventually created a 400 acre arboretum, which has grown into a 1700 acre wonder of living trees, bushes, etc. Grover Cleveland made him the 3rd U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, and a notable addition to his accomplishments was the founding of Arbor Day.

In 1911, one of his sons, Joy Morton, turned the business he had bought into the incorporated Morton Salt Company. The slogan “when it rains, it pours” was adapted from an old proverb. The little girl holding the umbrella in the rain was created with the slogan. The company had begun adding magnesium chloride to prevent caking when it became humid. It worked very well, but in a shaker you will still sometimes see that people have put a few grains of rice in to absorb moisture and prevent clumping, as it is out of the box and it sits for a long time.

The salt we buy these days with that little girl and the umbrella (or a more generic brand, if you prefer) can be bought for about 50 cents a box today. It is refined salt, which removes many natural minerals, and various companies add different chemicals for various reasons. But the salt that was around in Jesus’ day was unrefined salt – just the way God made it. You can buy unrefined salt today, but the same amount of unrefined salt as what you get in that round box will set you back anywhere from $6 -$15. But many of us believe it is much healthier for you.

Salt farmers harvesting salt, Pak Thale, Ban L...

Salt farmers harvesting salt, Pak Thale, Ban Laem, Phetchaburi, Thailand (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This unrefined salt contains many minerals (some would call “impurities,” which is a bogus assessment). In those times, if the salt became moist and started to dissolve over a long period of time, it would eventually become bland in taste, as the ratio of sodium chloride to mineral content began to become smaller.

So what has that to do with us? The context in which Jesus was talking about this was all about “counting the cost” of what it takes before becoming a Christian. And in these last two verses, he said “Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown away.”

When we first become Christians – assuming we are truly committed – we are full of zeal and enthusiasm. But as time goes by and the cares of this life begin taking their toll, some of that zeal and enthusiasm can easily be lost. It is easy for us to begin the race and then slow down over time – or even veer off the path. If we are not careful, we can lose our way, and our faith can become in vain – useless to anyone who might otherwise be positively influenced by our example.

The best way to keep the “moisture” of life’s troubles and temptations from leaching away our “saltiness” is by keeping the light of God’s word in our lives and nurturing our relationships and love with other Christians. We need a daily dose of reading God’s word, and fellowship that not only gives us encouragement, but also accountability.

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week

/Bob’s boy
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some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.

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