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First Pres Joliet

A Daily Devotional from our faith community @ firstpresjoliet.org

Without Penance

Luke 15: 21-24

The Loving Father has just run out to greet His son in the streets of the village. He has just humbled himself in front of everyone by revealing his love-sick heart, and all his emotions explode as he embraces and kisses his son, who has come back from a far country.

Luke 15: 21 “And his son said to him, ‘Father I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.'” The son is now reciting his rehearsed statement, that he has been practicing all the way home, but his father doesn’t need to hear it, he knows what is more important than words, action. His son has come home! The one who ran away is home, he turned around, it is not his words but his doing that is important.

Luke 15: 22. Cutting the rehearsed statement from his son off; “The father calls to his servants, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet;'” The symbolism here is; in essence the boy was naked, so the father clothes him with a robe, and puts sandals on his feet, and the ring is one with the family crest on it, showing his being reinstated as a son with full rights.

Luke 15: 23 “And bring the fatted calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate;” Unique in this culture is a spontaneous feast, and this one is no small gathering, for a calf will feed up to one hundred and twenty people. As we have seen in past parables and stories, normal celebrations are planned in advance and invitations are sent out to give time for proper preparations. But in this case the party is a ‘come as you are party’, there is joy in this house that can’t wait to be expressed.

Luke 15: 24. And the reason we are told is, “For this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and now has been found.” ‘And they began to celebrate.’

In this trilogy of parables, Jesus told of lost sheep, and lost coins, representing lost souls, revealing the value of each, the anguish of the one who has lost each, and the ‘joy of the angels in heaven, over the one sinner who repents’. This third parable represents repentance also, but focuses more-so on the Loving Father, who welcomes back the lost son, without penance.

Ephesians 2:1-6. “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, … but God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love, with which He loved us,…made us alive together with Christ, …and raised us up with him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”

The passing pleasure of sin is of no enticement when compared to the love and reinstatement of our Heavenly Father.

Blessings

Karl

The Return

Luke 15: 11-32

Luke 15: 1-32. The prodigal son has insulted his own father, and rejected his family, and his community by turning to a ‘far country’ to find delight in his pursuits. And has, after reaching the very bottom of existence, ‘come to his senses’, and is in the first stages of repentance.

Hosea is a parallel to this parable of the prodigal sons. The prophet explains, as he is asked by God to actually live out physically, those things the divided nation of Israel is doing, pursuing as a harlot other gods, in their rebellion to YHVH. So is this youngest son in Jesus story. Hosea 2:7 says that Israel ‘has pursued other lovers’, but when all have vanished, “Then she will say, ‘I will go back to my first husband, for it was better for me then than now!'”

Luke 15: 18 “But when he came to his senses, he said, ‘….I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.'” This statement might be a contrived plan for returning to the good graces of his father, it might not be as heartfelt as some portray it, only a calculated plan, but none-the-less, the boy does act on it.

Luke 15: 20. “So he got up and came to his father.” Note: In this culture, not current America, all people live in villages, there are no sprawling ranches in the country. Farmers and sheep owners have property, but live in villages and cities, in close community with their neighbors. And everyone knows everyone else’s business. So when the boy leaves home, everyone knows it, and when he returns, again, everyone knows. It does take great courage and humility for this boy to return home. There will be jaunts and hissing, and insults hurled at him as he walks down the street. Yet he continues on the way home.

Luke 15: 20. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him,…” This might be an understatement, for the dad to see him is not coincidence. He was watching for him, from the day he left, dad was watching, and everyday after, this is the love of a father. When his son rebels, it is anguish for the father, he doesn’t see it as the wrong of the son, but the failure of himself, whether real or imagined. And he would do anything to get him back, to rescue and restore him to the family.

v. 20. …”and ran and kissed him.” Again, as represented in the story of Zachaeus, men of any dignity at all, do not run, running is for children, not adult men. Yet this father runs, he throws caution to the wind, he disregards any thought of dignity, any thought of what the community is going to say, any repercussions or clucking of the tongues from neighbors. To hell with what anyone else may say, my son is coming home! So he runs, and he kisses him, he humiliates himself in front of everyone, on behalf of his son, nothing else matters. Is there any doubt of His love?

In the preceding parables there is a closing statement of the rejoicing in heaven over the one sheep, or the one coin, being found, representing one who repents. In this story of the sons, we are seeing the view from heaven, from Gods perspective, over the one who is gone astray. The first two represent value, this third one represents love. ‘For God so loved the world, that He gave…

Blessings

Karl’

The Communicable Attributes of God: Perfection & Blessedness

God’s perfection means that God completely possesses all excellent qualities and lacks no part of any qualities that would be desirable for him.

This attribute is as much a part of all the others as it’s one on it’s own. The subject of a “perfect” God comes up (Ps. 18:30, cf. Deut. 32:4) as does our own pursuit of it as Jesus recommends (Matt. 5:48). There is no quality of excellence that would be desirable for God to possess: he is “complete” or “perfect” in every way.

God’s blessedness means that God delights fully in himself and in all that reflects his character.

To be “blessed” is to be and feel satisfied. Old books express this feeling as “sanguine” or “felicity.” The definition reflects the fact that God is satisfied with his creation and how it reflects on himself (cp. Gen. 1:31). We, ourselves “are blessed” to be here at all in that we have nothing to do with it (cp. 1 Cor. 4:7, Ja. 1:17), nothing at all. This reality, most are completely numb to it, at our best reflects God’s character in what we say and how we live.

When we reflect God’s blessedness in those things pleasing to God, both from our own actions and those of others, we imitate our Lord’s satisfaction in the blessedness of creation. It reveals the many aspects of his most excellent character.

A Prodigal

Luke 15: 11-32. A parable of Jesus, ‘The Prodigal Sons:’

Understand this message is given to a Hebrew crowd following Jesus, made up of a wide spectrum of professions, from self-serving tax collectors, and sinners, to the self-serving religious Pharisees and Scribes.

V.11 “And Jesus said, ‘A man had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, “Father, give me the the share of the estate that falls to me'”.

(Note: This is a request for inheritance. An inheritance is given upon the death of the person bequeathing the inheritance. The oldest son, Deuteronomy 22:17, would receive a double portion of the father’s inheritance, as he was the heir of the family. This youngest son, by making his request was then declaring his wish for his father to die, he would rather have his money than his family association. This is an unheard of request, no one had ever experienced anything like this, or even heard of such audacity. Note too, Deuteronomy 22: 18-22, that in this culture, rebellious sons are often beaten for insolence, and in extreme cases put to death by stoning.)

Jesus’ story continues: “So he divided his wealth between them. And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his estate with riotous living.” (Note : Being a Hebrew, to go to a far country is to go into a Gentile nation, this is another sign of extreme rebellion.). “Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country, and he began to be impoverished.” (Proverbs 23:21 ‘For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty, and drowsiness will clothe one with rags.’).

V.15 “So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed the swine. And he would have gladly filled his belly with the pods that the swine were eating, and no one would give him anything.” (The pods were of the carob family and were not digestible for humans. And though he had been foolishly spending his money on strangers, no one had any compassion for him, he got nothing in return for his investment in them).

V. 17 “But when he came to his senses, he said, “How many of my Fathers servants have more than enough bread, but I am dying here of hunger? I will get up and go to my Father, and will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.'”

This is repentance, note that he plans to say to his father, ‘I have sinned against heaven’, of first importance, then he plans on confessing to his father. In all humility he no longer regards himself a son, he figures he gave up that right, and now humbles himself to that position of a hired hand.

In true repentance, which the theme of these parables, this young man in repentance regards himself a slave, seeking mercy, that which he does not deserve. This is a new beginning for this young man.

Blessings

Karl

The Communicable Attributes of God: Omnipotence

Gond’s omnipotence means that he is able to do all his holy will. The word “omnipotence” means “all-powerful.” God’s omnipotence has reference in his own power to do what he decides to do. This power is a constant mention in the Bible (Gen. 18:14, Ps. 24:8, Jer. 32:17, Luke 19:26, Matt. 19:26, 2 Cor. 6:18, Eph. 3:20, Rev. 1:8, etc.).

However, there are somethings that God cannot do. God cannot will or doing something that is not consistent with his character. This is why the definition states, “to do all his holy will.” For example, God cannot lie or deny himself ( 2 Tim. 2:43, Titus 1:2) or be tempted with evil (Ja. 1:13). He cannot cease to exist, cease to be God, or act in a way that is not consistent with any of the attributes and character he has established for himself. Although God’s power is infinite, his use of it is qualified by his own qualifications. It is important to recognize that one attribute or trait cannot overpower all the others like ours quite often do. Another way of expressing God’s power over creation is to say he is sovereign over it.

This is the last of God’s “purpose attributes” – will, freedom, power & sovereignty. Our make-up is such that we have a semblance of each ourselves. We exercise choices regarding our lives. We live in relative freedom within our spheres of activity. People can become proud and practice a freedom that rebels against God’s authority and knowingly refuse to obey his will. Conversely, we can apply our freedom and will, to make God endorsed choices that reflect his character.

God has given us limited power to bring about results – physical, persuasive, mental, and spiritual. These are to applied in our labor, in our family, in our church, in our civil government, etc. to bring about progress and at the same time glorifies our LORD. These progresses please God because they are consistent with his will.

The Lost Coin

Luke 15: 8-10

Luke 15: 1-7

Luke 15: 1-7 Of course, I have one more quick point to reveal in the parable of the Lost Sheep. Note, v. 7, that the ‘repentance’ that the found sheep is associated with in the conclusion, with ‘rejoicing in heaven over that one’, is akin to ‘being found’. The sheep does nothing in the entire repentance-restoration process. It merely gets lost. The shepherd does everything else. He notices the vacancy, he searches and finds, he rescues, he restores, he returns that one to community, and the heavens rejoice over the one who repents.

Luke 15: 8-10. In much the same way The Lost Coin is taught. In the current culture of Israel, at the time of Christ, just as sheep/shepherds are considered lower caste, so are women. In fact when men are gathered together talking, one must apologize if he mentions the word ‘woman.’ Women are homebound, except to go to the community well, and perhaps shopping, they never speak in the presence of men. But Jesus does not conform to that ideology. Yet for Jesus to mention a woman in a parable is to cause immense anxiety amongst the gathered crowd.

So He says: “Or what woman, if she has ten silver coins and loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? When she has found it, she calls her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost.’ In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Coinage is rare in village life in Israel. Each community is self supporting, food is grown, sheep are raised, tradesmen are available, cloth is woven, and bartering is the commodity. In the bedouin life, the nomads, women wear their dowry in the form of coins hanging on their veil. In village life, women wear theirs’ as a necklace. In each case the number ten speaks of perfection, and to lose one coin reveals imperfection, therefore its loss is much more than the value of the coin.

So the woman sweeps every nook and cranny of her home, she lights a lamp even in the daytime, to be able to see under tables, and in shadows, frantically searching for that coin. When she finds it, she once more feels complete, emotionally drained, yet now ecstatic, she runs to her friends and neighbors rejoicing and invites them to rejoice with her.

“In the same way, I tell you, there is Joy in the presence of the angels of God, over one sinner who repents.”

In both parables we must note that the searcher does all the work. This is a picture of the effort of Jesus our Savior. He is the shepherd who seeks the lost sheep, and the woman who seeks the lost coin. We, in these parables are the lost. Jesus is urgent about finding us, and when He does, who are we to resist His rescue?

Being found is repentance, and then the angels rejoice, glorifying God.

Blessings

Karl

‘All’ The Sheep Need A Shepherd

Luke 15: 1-7

Psalm 14:1-5

Isaiah 53: 6

Understand that these parables of Jesus do not, and are not, any attempt to give advice on earthly living, as in a newspaper column of helpful advice. As a Polly’s Pointers would do. And these parables do not depict a complete story, but only a particular point that is being revealed of spiritual value.

Luke 15: 1-7 Therefore in the parable of the shepherd who leaves the 99 sheep in the open field, is not to advise such actions as leaving your sheep alone in the wilderness, but rather the urgency of finding the lost sheep, revealing the value of each sheep. In addition to this value of the ‘one’, Jesus exposes the weakness of the religious leaders, the 99, who are the self-righteous, living with no regard for the ‘one’ who is lost. They are all sheep, both the wandering one, and the fold of 99, and they all need their shepherd.

There is great value in finding the ‘one’ lost sheep, i.e. the sinner, the lost, the forgotten. But note also the audience that Jesus is addressing, the 99. He finds great value in them also, enough so as to teach them in detail their disregard for the lost one, their sin, to which they are currently oblivious.

Jesus’ concluding statement to this parable is, “I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, than over 99 righteous persons who need no repentance.”

So there is a thrust in the message to the majority, the scribes and Pharisees, who know the scriptures well enough to know Psalm 14: 3, “There are none righteous, no not one.” And Isaiah 53: 6 “All we like sheep have gone astray, each one of us has turned to his own way.” Therefore their righteousness is a self imposed righteousness, and in their hearts, their innermost being, they know it. Just as the Pharisee, Nicodemus, knew it, and came to Jesus in the dead of night, and in that hour Jesus received him, and told him spiritual truth which he gladly received. John 3: 6-7 “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, that which is born of the Spirit is spirt, do not be amazed that I tell you, ‘you must be born again.'”

Jesus did not come to ostracize and reject anyone, but came to seek and to save the lost, whether they be the 99, or the one.

Blessings

Karl

The Communicable Attributes of God: Freedom

God’s freedom is an attribute whereby he does whatever he pleases within the confines of his self-imposed limitations and restrictions.

This attribute is closely related to his will and power. He is not constrained by anything or anyone to himself. He is free to do whatever he wishes to do. There is no person or force that can ever dictate to God what he should/can or should/can not do. He is under no authority or external restraints (cp. Ps. 115:3, Prov. 21:1, Dan. 4:35).

Because God is at perfect liberty, we cannot try to seek any ultimate answers for his creation and its actions other than it has been willed so, consistent with his character. Sometimes we try to figure the reasons why for “such-and-such” God has allowed this or that, etc. Like bringing us into this good, but fallen, earth or offering the possibility of eternal salvation away from and then eventually back on this planet. This is a vain attempt to match wits with our sovereign LORD. The best we can do is surmise that is/was God’s will as to the reason the earth/universe/ ourselves were created and to save sinners through Jesus’ atonement.

Are You A Shepherd?

Luke 14: 34-35

Luke 15: 1-7

I tell you there is a cost to being a disciple of Christ. Yes, He loves you, do you love Him? John 14:15 “If you love Me you will keep My commandments”.

Luke 15: 1-7. “Now all the the tax gatherers, (Those Jews who were collecting taxes on behalf of Rome, considered as traitors), and the sinners, (those Israelites who had given up attending temple service), were coming near to Jesus, to listen to Him. Both the Pharisees and the scribes began tho grumble, saying, ‘This man receives sinners and eats with them.'”

A typical wealthy man in Israel, because of duty to the Law to ‘show mercy’, would provide dinners and invite the poor and outcast to dine, on occasion. But they would never dine with them. They provided a room, a table, and food but refused association with them. Thus the distinction that Jesus would receive sinners, ‘and eat with them.’

Luke 15: 3. “So Jesus told them, (the Pharisees and scribes), this parable saying, “What man among you, if he has 100 sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the 99 in the open pasture and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulder, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’

At this time in the life and ministry of Jesus there is only the Temple, sacrifices, offerings, Feast days, the Aaronic and Levitical priesthood’s, and all the requirements of the Law. The religious leaders love the Psalms of David, as a shepherd boy become King, and the soothing concepts regarding Jehovah as their Shepherd. But the reality is, the trade of being a shepherd is disgusting to them, it is a stinky, lowly trade, for the unclean, isolated, and unlearned.

For Jesus to associate these men with being shepherds, in the field, losing a sheep, and then searching for, finding and restoring the sheep to the fold is beyond reproach. For they consider themselves above such men, above the sinners, and the unwashed masses.

V. 7. Jesus continues; “I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one ‘sinner’ who repents than over 99 righteous persons who need no repentance”.

In this parable Jesus reveals the hypocrisy of those who love their ‘position in life’ as it pertains to God, more that God. And if you believe that God loves you more than He loves others, then perhaps you don’t really understand the greatest of the commandments, Mark 12: 29: “Jesus answered, ‘ The greatest commandment is, “Hear, O Israel! The LORD our God is One LORD; And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength.” And the second is this, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

‘Jesus loves me this I know’, but not to the exclusion of others. 2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not willing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance”.

Blessings

Karl

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