‘The Parable of the Two Lost Sons and Gracious Father’. Doesn’t have the same ring to it, right? Yet, it is likely a bit more accurate than “The Parable of the Prodigal Son” or “The Parable of the Lost Son”. All three main characters represent parties who are probably present when Jesus takes advantage of a teachable moment…
God’s grace is so amazing because, like the younger son, we don’t deserve it. We have all sinned and separate ourselves from God. And we cannot earn our reconciliation back to God simply by doing what we should have been doing in the first place. We need grace – unmerited, undeserved favor. We need grace that says: no matter what you’ve done, no matter how far you have fallen, no matter how many mistakes you have made, if you turn back to your Heavenly Father, He is not only waiting for you, He will run out to greet you, to throw His arms around you, and to kiss you tenderly as His child.
On the road of life, how tempting is it to type in our own GPS coordinates, head to where we want to go, and then ask God for traveling mercies? If we claim to follow Christ, however, we must let Jesus take the wheel. Following Jesus means we must be willing to “lose” our lives (metaphorically or even literally) for Christ. We must be ride-or-die.
After Peter’s great messianic confession and great messianic misunderstanding, Jesus clarifies the nature of His Messiahship and the nature of Christian discipleship. Anyone who wants to follow (behind) Him, must deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow. His followers must deny their self-centered desires, be willing to endure persecution/shame/death, and dedicate their lives to Him and the Gospel
Paul frees a slave girl from spiritual bondage only to be thrown into physical bondage. Ironically, this leads to his jailer being set free from his spiritual bondage. Spreading the Gospel can lead to persecution and suffering. Yet, suffering can lead to salvation.
This intriguing account, structured chiastically, tells how God disinherits and scatters peoples across the earth and assigned members of His divine council to govern each nation (cf. Dt 32:8-9, ESV) — before taking Israel as His special inheritance (cf. the Call of Abraham in Genesis 12f.) to establish His Kingdom.
In Psalm 82, God (Elohim, singular) stands in the divine assembly of elohim (plural)– lesser, created, divine/spiritual beings. At least some of these elohim are condemned by God for not exercising justice when governing the nations. They were supposed to govern justly concerning the poor, needy, fatherless, powerless – but they didn’t do their job. Therefore God says these disobedient elohim will die like mortals. Then the Psalmist prays that the LORD manifests His justice over all the nations – for they’re all, ultimately, the LORD’s inheritance.
In this account, Paul and his companions are prevented from traveling to certain areas in Asia. Instead, through a dream, they are directed to the Roman colony, Philippi, in the region of Macdeonia. There, apparently, the Gospel is spread for the first time in Europe. They meet Lydia, a God-fearing woman of some means. She becomes a believer and puts her faith into action.
The fear of the LORD is the foundation of true knowledge and wisdom. We must acknowledge that we creatures lack the knowledge and wisdom of the Creator. Thus, it only makes sense to follow the Creator of life’s instructions for life. We are to trust in the LORD entirely and exclusively, not in our feeble understanding. In everything we do, we are to submit to Him, and He will make our paths straight (morally). Let us not rely on our own moral compass and ethical judgments, for it is the LORD who is the ultimate Judge.