Sunday, September 25, 2011

"A funny thing happened on the way to the hog lot"

Scripture Reference: Luke 15: 11- 24

In the Book of St. Luke chapter 15 we find Christ Jesus explaining to His Disciples in the form of stories of people that had lost things to the world. In this one particular story we find that one son did what was right and one son did that which was wrong and paid the price thereof. The question I would like to ask is how did one of the young men find his way into the hog lot and eating what the hogs ate? There are a lot of possible reasons for the young man’s demise and it would pay us to look closely at some of these reasons.

“And he said; a certain man had two sons: And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father; I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry. Luke 15:11-24 KJV

I believe one possible reason of separation from the boy’s family could have been youthful exuberance. Without any experiences of this world, he possibly believed he has a better idea of how things should be done- a different way of approaching things than that of his Father. This is atypical of most all young men; I am speaking from my own experiences. His arrogance and pride has proved him to be sort of bullet proof saying often around others – “hey ya'll watch this!” There was the possibility of some insubordination due to the fact that he insisted on leaving and asked to have what was coming to him handed to him as soon as possible. He was impertinent in demanding these request be filled as to get as far away from home as soon as he could. I feel he was somewhat arrogant due to social status while all along riding on his father's coat-tail. One important point was for sure the boy was his father’s son and desired to show the world what he could do. There was also the possibility of some father/ son competition being played out on the farm.

Even though the young man left with his father's blessing and consent, he was acting upon the permissive will of God instead of the perfect will of God. On one hand and as I see things, there is also a spiritual war going on in the spirit world simultaneously for this young man and us alike for his eternal soul. No doubt Satan has been working long and hard on this young man to the point of breaking someone’s heart in the process. Satan does not care in the slightest that heart he breaks as long as he gets that eternal soul he is pursuing. The dissention of God’s will for this young man’s life began with the rebellious attitude towards God’s will for his life. With God’s permissive will he left home and started the decent out of God’s will by appeasing his flesh with riotous living. In verses 13, 14, and 15, we see the quagmire the young man found himself in to the point of stopping and having to address the situation. In short, he had come to the end of the road of choices, or had he?

“And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.” Luke 15:13-15 KJV

One point I would like to make here is that God knows how to stop us in our tracks. No doubt this is a very bad situation the young man found himself in but, it could get a lot worse if he is persistent in moving on with his own demise. Hypothetically speaking, God could start breaking bones to slow him down even further. Or, some dreaded disease would land him in the bed of sickness just so he would be forced to stare at the ceiling looking up to God. The LORD will employ all sorts of ways and means in which to get our attention and face him with questions in which he is gracious enough to answer. This is the example of the exhibit of grace that God uses to bring us into a position in which we are forced to deal with it. The situation cannot be pushed aside any longer at this point. On the other hand, the LORD God knew of the youthful stubbornness of the young man and allowed him to have the experience in his life that would bring about change of mind through worldly experiences. I found out personally that some experiences are too costly to venture into after the fact. In all of our trials and troubles in life I feel the real purpose for God's permissive will is to teach us all just what unmerited favour really means. I believe, in the end of it all, we will have experienced the wonderful Grace of God and have a good understanding of what it entails. Many of us bear the scars of sin and rebellion of years gone by but God is gracious enough to wait out our wild oats sowing days. Trust me when I say that time is on God’s side but very little time is on our side. There is a price to pay for rebellion but God desires that all that travel that path gets tired of the spiritual resistance against their wicked ways to the point of giving up out of exhaustion. In verses 17 – 24 the young man no doubt experienced what grace was all about when he found his very own father hugging him like a lost sheep that was found. There were many tears of joy and gladness shed that day because the boy, through untold hardship, had found his way back home through the providential care of God. A fact is it isn’t God’s will that any of us should perish but come to repentance. I remember that old and beautiful church hymnal song, “The Ninety and Nine”, coming into play in my mind right now. Praise the LORD for the unspeakable gift of grace!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

"Enough is never enough"

Today’s Bible study will entail the teachings of King Solomon taken from the Book of Ecclesiastes chapter five starting with verse 12.

"The sleep of a labouring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much: but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep.” King Solomon Ecclesiastes 5:12 KJV

I believe if there was ever a person who could tell the absolute truth about what problems that could potentially arise from too much acuminated wealth, I feel it has to be Solomon. The better question I might ask is, how much is enough? In Solomon's day when King Solomon prospered everyone in the city and surrounding area prospered with him. God most definitely blessed the King of Israel with 40 years of prosperity and peace with their neighbors. A good question I feel is, are we as born-again Christian's blessed by God as were the Israelites? With much study and prayer for guidance of the Holy Spirit I have arrived at the answer, YES! Wonderful! You might be thinking right now, but I want you to understand there is a hitch to this health, wealth, and prosperity. It has to do with the Holy Father's will for your personal life. So many Christian's in the church today are seeking after wealth to the point that lustful feelings of greed have taken up camp in their heart. Do we think God is going to bless us continually without any accountability? For example, would you hand over the keys to your $180,000 Mercedes Benz, provided you have something of that value, to your teenage son or daughter without knowing first they could be trusted with the responsibility? Some have and that is why their lust for wealth, fame, and power seem to be insatiable and in many circumstances, to the point of destruction. This is a thought to ponder. Just where is all of Solomon's wealth today? Where did it all go? Scattered to the four winds I am afraid. Was all his efforts in vain?

Have you ever pondered the thought of just how much it would take in this world to bring about satisfaction and happiness to you as an individual? Therein lays a vicious trap that so few are even aware of.

"There is a sore evil which I have seen under the sun, namely, riches kept for the owners thereof to their hurt.” King Solomon Ecclesiastes 5:13 KJV

I am afraid that so many of us haven’t realized that the human body is always craving or longing for something it feels it has a need for. It could be food or just a craving for some particular type of food like cake, cake is good! But how much does one really need? I know this might sound silly but there are some people who cannot get enough cake in this life and are paying the drastic consequences! It isn’t only cake; it could be anything and everything sometimes to the point of being out of control. I feel that is the magic word, CONTROL! There has to be some sort or some kind of restraining in our lives or else everything would be an insatiable desire to us with no control! As we read about the life of Solomon we have discovered his weakness, and we have to admit everyone has one! Solomon's weakness was for the opposite sex, yes, women. At the end of his days he had amassed some 1000 women from different countries and with many different religious beliefs. This was his demise to say the least; he caved in to all his fleshly desires. I believe this is a case in point where God allows things to happen to certain people just the point out that God's intensions was to make that individual an example to us all. I for one do not want to be used as an example before the entire world. Would you like this to happen to you? I feel that God so richly blessed Solomon that somewhere the blessing crossed a line and became a curse to make a point in Solomon's life. The irony of it all is that he lived to write about all his experiences, good and bad. The Book of Ecclesiastes is a personal ledger of sorts that Solomon left his thoughts to ponder to his legacy. You will notice right away that Solomon was a most miserable man that had accomplished everything he ever thought about. Wealth most certainly did not make him happy. Fame and posterity most certainly did not make him happy. Just what did make Solomon Happy? I feel it was the time spent alone with God contemplating on the words of wisdom God laid on his heart to contemplate and comment on. The Word of God was his only inner peace and solitude. You can read and see it in his writings.

"But those riches perish by evil travail: and he begetteth a son, and there is nothing in his hand. As he came forth of his mother's womb, naked shall he return to go as he came, and shall take nothing of his labour, which he may carry away in his hand. And this also is a sore evil, that in all points as he came, so shall he go: and what profit hath he that hath laboured for the wind? All his days also he eateth in darkness, and he hath much sorrow and wrath with his sickness." King Solomon Ecclesiastes 5:14-17 KJV

Solomon was writing about his father David and himself. King David was the warrior and bad guy in the story who subdues all the surrounding territories. To all those who are not spiritual all they saw was what Solomon was left to do was to pick up where his father left off and live the life of Riley with no worries of being poor or destitute. But there was a price to pay for all that wealth and prosperity. In the verse before, he was that son he spoke of and wrote about. I believe that there is a cutoff point when it comes to wealth and riches to the Christian child of God. I for one cannot believe that my Heavenly Father would bless me to the point that it would become a curse. Or, at least I hope He wouldn't. I feel that He would cut off the thing that may become a hindrance to me to preserve me in mine integrity. At least I hope and pray that He would. I do pray for my protection and the protection of my children every day I live. I cannot imagine me giving one of my children something that could potentially do them any harm. Can you? No, with wisdom and understanding, I would give those things that would be beneficial and helpful and withhold anything that could become a hindrance to them in their life. But, that is me. Some parents don't seem to care what they give their children and ends up being their death sentence. Thankfully, the LORD doesn’t work that way and it isn’t His intensions to bring about harm and disaster in His Childs life. The rebellious child is another situation and calls for drastic measures in order to bring about stability in that person’s life. In that scenario, God in all His wisdom isn’t out to destroy the person but bring them to repentance and their very Salvation.

The LORD does want us to be able to enjoy what we have without greed and anxiety taking over our lives. If you are struggling with what you have accumulated in life, you are probably out of the LORD’s will for your life. The LORD intends that we live out our lives in contentment and with a thankful heart praise Him for what we have or don't have. The LORD intends that we live without struggle and discontentment in our lives. We don't realize what we seem to lust for and crave for could lead us to our own destruction. For our own protection God will not allow very much to enter our lives that would do us in, and if He does, you can bet it is for a very good lesson to be learned in the process of misery. I believe He would want us to live out our lives content and thankful for all that we are allowed to accumulate in this life.

A very wise man once wrote out his request to God to add to his protection in life.

"Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not before I die: Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, who is the LORD? Or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.” Agur, Proverbs 30:7-9 KJV

I believe like the Apostle Paul when he said, "all things in moderation", of course that excludes those things that are evil or might have the appearance of evil. The Apostle James had quite a lot to say about rich men and the dangers of Christian's getting caught in their evil schemes. James expressed this concern in the Book of James beginning with chapter two and finishing chapter five. I encourage you to read these chapters for better understanding of the evil of riches on this earth. I believe the Apostle James summed up the whole affair of the trap that Christian's fall into in this one verse.

"Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?"
Apostle James 2:5 KJV

We as Christian's would do well to remember we are sojourners in this world and just passing through to the Kingdom of God where there will be no need for the things of this world. We will be completely outfitted for the Kingdom when we get insight of the lights of the City of God. Let's don't get sidetracked on the way to see King Jesus. Lets us stay the course with a light load to carry and head for a home of peace and life everlasting.

Note: Agur: was probably a public teacher, and Ithiel and Ucal, his pupils; and this was the Massa, or oracle, which he delivered, not by his own wisdom, but by the Holy Spirit, for the benefit of man; and which, it is probable, was added by "the men of Hezekiah."