Today’s reading is drawn from Luke 15:11-32.
For a son to ask for his inheritance before the death of his father was a severe cultural offense, equivalent to wishing for the father’s death. The lost son ended up in the worst of circumstances from a Jewish point of view: a place where even unclean pigs were faring better than he was. The father’s extravagant mercy turned out to be as far-reaching as the son’s offenses. The story turns near the end, when the older brother refused to join the party, revealing that he was as lost as his younger brother. This parable probably was meant to illustrate the self-righteous attitudes of observant religious people who felt entitled to the kingdom because they “never disobeyed” (Luke 15:29). Jesus left the parable unresolved, forcing his listeners to see themselves in the story.
What did this parable teach you about mercy?
Today’s Prayer Moment is drawn from Esth. 7
Thank You, Father, for Your hand in our lives. How grateful we are that even though we may not hear Your voice in an audible manner or see Your shadow cast across the wall in the room where we’re sitting, we know that You are here and You are in charge. You are in full control of the events that transpire. In all our circumstances, Lord, thank You for watching over us so carefully, for taking care of the details of our lives, for being touched by our struggles, and for rejoicing with us in our joys. We thank You. In Jesus’ name, amen.
“Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.” (Romans 16:17-18)
In order to mark and avoid those professing Christian teachers and leaders who are promoting doctrinal heresy (thus causing divisions among Christian believers), it is obvious that we must exercise sound biblical discernment and judgment. This judgment must be based on “the doctrine which ye have learned” from God’s Word. “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:20).
Such decisions are not to be based on supposed scholarship, tolerance, or eloquence, for such teachers “by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.” Instead, we must know and apply God’s Word, the Holy Scriptures. We must be like the Bereans, who, when they heard new teachings, “searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11).
It is sadly true today that many who call themselves Christians have compromised with the pseudo-scientific worldview of evolutionary humanism that controls all secular schools and colleges, hoping thereby to avoid the “offence of the cross” (Galatians 5:11) and to remain on good terms with “the princes of this world” and “the wisdom of this world” (1 Corinthians 2:6).
They do this for their own personal gain or prestige, however, not serving Christ “but their own belly” (Romans 16:18). Those who are simple Bible-believing Christians are, therefore, not to be deceived by their “good words” but to “mark” and avoid them. HMM