Posts Tagged ‘Selfish’


I had a long conversation with one of my dearest Pastor friends today. He told me he was praying for my church, praying that we would see revival, and experience the power of God in our midst. I said thanks, and made a feeble attempt of explaining that God’s power was already there, we just needed to open our eyes of faith and see it. However, I could not stop thinking about what my friend said. Revival in my church. Why did my spirit react to that when he said it? Then, while cycling 13 miles in 102-degree heat, it hit me. (No, I was not hallucinating). Revive means to come to life again. Did we die? More importantly, does Jesus Christ ever die? No, He does not. He reigns even now. He will reign forever. Jesus in me never died! Revive also means to “regain strength.” Has Christ ever lost strength? No, for He is the same yesterday, today and forever! So why are my folks struggling with experiencing the power of God? Why isn’t ‘revival’ the answer?

If Christ is in us and has never died, never lost strength, why do we pray for revival? Why should I pray for fleshly Christians to come alive again? Why should I pray for fleshly apathetic Christians to come back to life? For weak fleshly Christians to grow strong? If I pray that, the flesh will continue to exalt itself. I cannot pray for that type of revival. The reason they are apathetic and weak is not because Christ within died or is weak, but because they are ignoring Jesus Christ within. They are allowing things of this world – cares, riches, sorrows, trials, pleasures, habits, whatever…to crowd out Jesus Christ from having any power and presence in their lives. Why should I pray for apathetic and weak Christians to come to life again? They are already alive, already busy, and already self-centered. What I need to pray is for Christians to die! Die to selfish pursuits, die to fleshly pleasures, die to self-reliance and allow Jesus Christ to live! to be Lord! We need to allow Him to live within us, to reign within us! He has not changed, but we have. We have allowed our lives to crowd Him out, to obscure Him from our vision. I want my people to see Him anew!

We do not need a revival. We need a burial! Jesus is alive! He is Lord! We are not allowing Him to reign in our lives! We throw Him a bone now and then (at church), but live our lives apart from His Lordship. We live our lives apart from His LIFE! His Life is peace; our lives are chaos and worry. His Life is strength; our lives are overwhelmed by circumstances. Why? Because we do not see Him!


I stopped praying for revival in my church. I started praying for death in my church, for my people need to die to themselves. They need to see the LIFE that Christ has for them! They need to let Him live by faith!

We need to Re-Die,
not Re-Vive.

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If we are honest, we have all experienced times when we resented our spouse. We may have even asked that question – did I marry the right one? Did I miss God’s perfect will? Or we meet someone else who seems to be our “soul-mate” and thank we are missing out on life. Marriage is the proverbial “ball and chain” and we are living as a condemned man or woman. Such questions can lead to contempt for our spouse, contempt for our life, contempt for our marriage.

If marriage is to accomplish what God intends, and that is to make us Holy, to empower us to be Victorious in Christ, then there are some fundamental decisions we must adhere to, and they center upon what God delights in! We must take the God Dare with our marriage. We must trust Him with our spouse.

We must commit to seeing our marriage as God sees it – the way to bring holiness to two stumbling sinners.

  • Contempt is conceived with expectations
  • Respect is conceived with expressions of gratitude.

You chose what you obsess over – expectations or thanksgivings.

If you say “But my wife is the one who has the speck”, you are exactly the one Jesus is talking to. Jesus wants us to have humble spirits, humble hearts. We must cast off contempt and resentment and learn the spiritual discipline of respect.


God had a reason for marriageWhy did you get married? Why do you want to get married? Answers are varied, but usually focus on love, completeness, happiness, maybe even hotness…, lust, some people even throw in God.

But did anyone say they got married to be please God? I don’t think so.

Marriage is a big deal throughout the world. There is something within normally wired men and women that draws us together. We are drawn into relationships, and those relationships usually end up in marriage.

Me-MarriageIn the 21st Century we have come to regard marriage as a “me” thing. It must make “me” happy. It must have romance, it must have spontenaity, it must meet “me” needs. Books are written on how to compromise so that both me’s in the marriage are kept happy. Gone are the books about subjection and submission and pleasing the husband. Gone are the books about ruling your home and discipline and leadership. They have all been replaced with books about tolerance, sensitivity, freedom, acceptance and sharing responsibilities.

starter marriageChildren are raised with the idea that life is all about them and what they want, and so they go into marriage expecting the same. Most have experienced their parents divorcing, so they have this pre-programed attitude that if their spouse fails to meet their needs, they leave and move on to someone else. We have even come to accept the reality of “starter marriages” and how they can be beneficial in opening our eyes to the hardships and struggles that marriages often have.

As most young people enamored with the romance and beauty of extravagant marriages and honeymoons soon discover, marriage quickly turns into the excitement of driving across Kansas and seeing an occasional overpass. Too often couples see marriage as an ideal that they want to have in their lives, but it soon descends into hurt and disappointment and even resentment and hatred.

Mature-MarriageSo most couples who survive the turmoils of learning to live with a person of the opposite sex and opposite thinking, trade the romantic “Me-Marriage” for realistic “Mature-Marriage”. Instead of leaving the marriage because of selfish expectations, they stay in the marriage and learn to settle for or tolerate each other. The marriage becomes “livable” and “convenient”.

Is the “Me-Marriage” or even the “Mature-Marriage” what God had in mind when he created Eve for Adam?

God from the very beginning told Adam and Eve to “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it”.

Marriage is about Life and EnergyMarriage was designed to be full of Life and to Subdue this World for God! Marriages are to Conquer, to Win, to be Victorious! God designed Marriage to generate energy and LIFE, not just energy to survive each other, but to subdue the world! God’s marriage generated energy to Overcome and have LIFE!

God is all about Life and Life that is Abundant, Fruitful and Fulfilling! God designed Marriage to accomplish His purpose!

God designed marriage so that the challenges and problems a couple faces should be transformational- should bring them closer to the power and purpose of God! Marriage is all about the Life that God wants us to Live!

Now if marriages are to accomplish what God wants, they can’t be about Me or even We.

Marriage Designed to make us HolyAnd if Marriages are about Victory and Conquering, they shouldn’t be boring or lifeless or settling and mature. They should be about Life! The life that God gives.

We need to see marriage and our relationships with our spouses in a different light. We need to see them as God designed.

  • God did not design marriage to make us happy, but to make us Holy.
  • God did not design marriage to benefit us, but to Empower us!

We all got married with dreams in our heads.

Sexy-Nightie-or-Ratty-Sweat-PantsI imagined Lydia would make a great pastor’s wife. I could see her faithfully by my side as I preached to admiring audiences. But somewhere along the line my dreams of saving the world turned into the nightmare of feeding six children, of Chuck E Cheese, of braces, and fighting about watching Terminator instead of Pretty Woman for the 30th time.  Seemingly overnight we went from sexy nighties to ratty sweats. What happened to those dreams? Is this what marriage is really all about?

So What does God Want Marriages to be?

What was His design – “Sexy Nighties” or “Ratty Sweats”? How can Marriage make us Holy and Empower us to be like God, and accommodate any attire, any stage of life? This is the purpose of this series of messages – to discover God’s design for marriage, and to discover how to become TotallyMarried.

There are two Non-Negotiable beliefs that we must embrace if we are to become TotallyMarried.

1. Marriage requires a 24/7 commitment.
2. Marriage requires a new and selfless life.

If we are to discover God’s purpose for marriage, we must commit our heart to God, without reservation. If we are to discover God’s purpose for marriage, we must surrender our will, our notions, our preconceptions to Him.

Marriage Designed to Please GodGod Designed Marriage to Please Him!

1 Corinthians 7:1-2 (NIV) Now for the matters you wrote about: It is good for a man not to marry. But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband.

1. “So Much Immorality”

God knew we had needs and so he designed marriage to deal with those needs. But those needs aren’t limited to sex, for marriage will also deal with anger, selfishness, pride, inadequacy, loneliness, anger. We never enter marriage perfect. We bring our character needs with us, and marriage is designedby God to deal with them.

2. God uses Marriage to Confront our Needs

No one who is afraid to face themselves as they really are should ever get married. Your spouse will quickly figure out your deficiencies, idiosyncrasies, strengths, weaknesses. Marriage reveals and often brings to the forefront our character needs and deficiencies.

3. You Decide if Marriage will Shape and Empower You.

Marriage is a Stress test for heartMarriage is all about relationships and is the most strenuous “relational exercise” you will ever have. Marriage is a stress-test for our heart. Failure to deal with character needs will result in fights, relational walls, alienation, bitterness and worse. Marriage becomes God’s principle means for preparing us for eternity, as He uses marriage to mold and conform us to His Son, Jesus Christ. You can accept God’s purpose and design, or you can kick and scream and throw a fit.

4. Marriage Reveals There Is No Substitute For God.

Anyone who thinks their mate will complete them or give them total fulfillment soon discovers that will not be the case. God is our source of fulfillment and peace. Marriage simply reveals our need for Him. Your spouse is designed to complement you, not complete you. We are only complete in Christ. Therefore, we must look to God anytime we feel our spouse is not meeting our needs, or neglecting us, or even abusing us.

Marriage-is-a-signpost5. Marriage: Signpost Pointing Us to God

Marriage is used to Explore and Know God. You can either be married in a vacuum and deal with life on your own, or you can accept that God has a purpose for your marriage and that is to use it and the problems and trials to explore and know Him. Marriage can be a daily reminder of God’s presence in your life. Everything about our marriage is designed to reveal Him in a more powerful and real way.

6. Marriage Pictures Reconciliation

marriage about reconciliation

There is no better word to describe God’s heart toward man than RECONCILIATION. The Entire Bible is God’s message of what He has done to reconcile man to Him. He offers this hope to His people, who have constantly rejected Him and killed His prophets and even killed His Son:

Isaiah 62:5 “As a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you”

So much of the Word illustrates marriage and its picture of RECONCILIATION.

  • God became united with flesh in Jesus Christ.
  • Jesus Christ is seeking His bride for the wedding to the lamb (Rev 19:7) where we will enjoy the wedding banquet (Matthew 22:1-14)
  • Jesus reconciled God to Man so that we can know Him and have a relationship with Him.
  • Marriage is the place of reconciliation that displays the Father’s Love to the world.
  • Marriage pictures the ongoing relationship between Christ and His church.
  • Couples will face moments of reconciliation constantly through their marriage.

7. We Must Chose between having a Man-centered vs. God-centered View of Marriage

  • Man: We will maintain our marriage as long as our earthly comforts, desires and expectations are met. ( Marriage is all about my enjoyment.)
  • God: We preserve our marriage because it brings glory to God and points a sinful world to a reconciling Creator (Marriage is about God’s Glory)

Marriage Pleases God8. God Designed Marriage to Please Him

2 Corinthians 5:9 (NIV) So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.

Paul says our goal in life should be to please God. Marriage is  more than happiness, sexual expression, bearing children, companionship, mutual care and provision. Marriage is designed be God to PLEASE HIM! We ask not “What will make me happy”? We ask “what will make God happy?”

2 Corinthians 5:15 (NIV)And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

Married couples are to use their marriages to LIVE FOR HIM!

9. Marriage Fulfills the Ministry of Reconciliation

Marriage Pictures Ministry of Reconciliation2 Corinthians 5:16-19 (NIV) So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.

Marriages model Christs forgiveness, selfless love and sacrifice.  Marriages that fail send a message to the world that I have stopped loving someone and  have broken a promise I made many years earlier. Sad that Barna notes Born Again Christians have a divorce rate that is higher than non-believers (27% to 23%) How can children believe us when we tell them God’s promise to Love and forgive them is secure when they can’t see that we honor our word.

Divorce signals that at least one of the Spouses has failed to put the Gospel first in their lives.

10. Successful Marriages require a commitment to Christian Duty.

700 year old treePictured is a 700 year old tree in the Northern Cascade National Park. These trees grow so old in the Northern Cascades because the constant rain and wetness ofthe  forest minimizes fire from lightning strikes.

  1. The Western Slope of the Cascades are so wet that lightning strikes cause relatively few fires. Traditional forests face lightning initiated fires every 50 or 60 years.
  2. Christian marriages will still be stuck by lightning-sexual temptation, communication problems, frustrations, trials, hardships, unrealized expectations. If marriages are heavily watered with an unwavering commitment to please God, the conditions will not be ripe for a devastating fire to follow the lightning strike.

If I am married only for my happiness, and my happiness wanes for whatever reason, one little spark will burn the entire forest down. But if my aim is to proclaim and model God’s ministry of reconciliation, my endurance and marriage will be fireproof.

Totally Married in God's Design11. We must practice the Spiritual Discipline of Marriage.

I must put my own relationship with God first. Sticking it out is a victory in and of itself. A 700 year old tree commands our attention simply because it has endured so long. Christians can command attention simply by staying married. When asked why, we say “would you like to hear more about the good news of reconciliation?” Of course, if our hearts are committed to God and pleasing Him, He will use our marriage to energize us and bring His Life to us!

Marriages Are The Message Of Reconciliation This World Needs To Hear And See.


Parable of Prodigal SonSome suggest we no longer call this the Parable of the Prodigal Son, but the Parable of the Lost Sons.

I suggest that we should call it the parable of the Lost Son and the Selfish Child.

Jesus said the Father had two SONS, using the Greek word “huios” for both. Then the younger SON (huios) left, declaring his freedom, and in that culture became DEAD to his Father. When his Father saw him afar off, he leaped from his chair and ran to meet him. Rejoicing, he told everyone that this SON (huios) of mine was DEAD and is ALIVE again. (has come to life again – anadzah’o)

The younger brother was his SON again. This the Father demonstrated with the ring, the robe and the sandals. They meant the Father had RESTORED his RELATIONSHIP with his SON! WHY? Because our Father is is the Father of LIFE, of HOPE, of LIVING RELATIONSHIPS.

God of the LivingJesus declared this when he answered the Sadducees  “He is not God of the dead, but of the living.Matthew 22:32. The Word further declares:

Not only is God the God of the Living, but Paul declared this to the Romans: “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, in the power of the Holy Spirit(Rom. 15:13).

Peter further explained that this is a Living Hope by the Resurrection:Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his great mercy begat us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1 Pet. 1:3).

The ResurrectionGod is the God of Hope by the Resurrection — in other words, by the triumph of Life over death. This means that in every dark situation, God never despairs and never gives up. For our Father knows the tremendous power of Resurrection, of Life.

Huios vs TeknonThe Father had two SONS, but only one knew the power of RESURRECTION. In fact, when the Elder Brother argued with the Father, the Father called him my CHILD (teknon). Calling him a child was like saying “I know you are mine by birth, but you are not my SON, because we don’t have a REAL RELATIONSHIP!”

Jesus was never referred to as TEKNON of God. He was always called the HUIOS of God. We, on the other hand, are called the TEKNON of God by John to indicate we are BORN into the family of God:

But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, [even] to them that believe on his name.  John 1:12.

The Elder Brother Refused to Go In

Elder Brother Refuses to go in

Both Younger and Elder Brothers were the children of the Father, but as our Parable ends, only one was the SON of the Father. The Younger was the Son because he had come back to life and had come into a LIVING RELATIONSHIP with his Father.

The Elder Brother was a child of the Father, but there was no RELATIONSHIP.

The shocking truth of this Parable is that only the younger son reflected the character of the LIVING FATHER. The sinner was more like his Father than the righteous Elder Brother. WHY? Because the Younger Son was ALIVE, while the Elder Brother was DEAD in his self-righteousness.

Like Father Like SonMatthew 5:9 & 45 use the word huios and it refers to those who reflect the character of God. The Greek word for child or children is teknon. In contrast to huios, it means the fact of birth whereas huios stresses the dignity and character of the relationship. Another aspect of this Greek word, huios,  involves “likeness.” The New Testament contains the concept expressed in the proverb, “Like father, like son” (Matt. 5:45,48). It was typical Hebrew usage to employ the word “son” to express likeness. For instance, those who are peacemakers will be called God’s sons because they are like God (Matt. 5:9). God’s likeness, His image, will be “stamped” upon those who have been brought to maturity and adopted as sons (Rom. 8:29; I John 3:2-3).

One way to understand the difference between the Elder and Younger is to understand another use of HUIOS with the addition of thesia or “huiosthesia” – “adopted or placed as sons”. In the Roman world, the father adopted as a son his own child. Birth made him a child (teknon); adoption made him a son (huios). Between the period of birth and adoption, there were stages of growth, education and discipline, until the maturity was reached for adoption into sonship. With adoption the son was recognized as one who could faithfully represent the father. He had arrived at the point of maturity, where the father could entrust him with the responsibility of overseeing the family business. The son becomes the “heir” of his father’s inheritance. Birth gives one the right to the inheritance, but adoption gives one the participation in the inheritance.

Elder Brother Child Corinthians BabiesThe Elder Brother assumed upon the FATHER’S Stuff because of his natural birth, because he was the first born child. But what the Father was declaring was the SONSHIP of the younger brother because of the RESURRECTION and their restored RELATIONSHIP.

Paul referred to the Corinthians as babies, still on milk. They had been born into the family of God, but had never matured, even though they had been enriched in speech and in knowledge of Jesus Christ (1 Cor 1:6). In fact, he said they were not lacking in any spiritual gift. The Corinthians probably saw themselves as the Elder Brother saw himself – the Mature Ones. But the Father called him a child, and Paul called the Corinthains babies!

Secret of SonshipWhat makes the difference? How do we Elder Brother Types become SONS? Paul gives us the clue when he says “you are still of the flesh.” What does that mean to born again children of God?

It means we are still walking around in our stinking rotting corpses. And the flesh is abhorred by the Father.  Paul shouts the secret of SONSHIP to all Elder Brothers:

And we have received God’s Spirit (not the world’s spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us. 1 Corinthians 2:12 (NLT)

We have a LIVING RELATIONSHIP with the FATHER of the LIVING, but it is only through the Holy Spirit! We must walk after the Holy Spirit to enjoy this Living Relationship with our Father. It is not on the basis of our works that we have this living relationship. It is on the basis of the Holy Spirit being allowed to LIVE in us!

The Father went outside and pleaded with his Elder Child. The word for plead is paraclete, the same word we use for the Holy Spirit! Picture the Holy Spirit pleading with all us EBT’s to reckon our flesh and works dead, and to FOLLOW HIM, to Walk in the LIFE of the Holy Spirit! This is the only way we will enjoy any RELATIONSHIP with the FATHER!

He is the FATHER of the LIVING, the FATHER of those who have died to the flesh, and now walk in the Living Relationship of the Holy Spirit within us! The younger brother experienced that death and so was welcomed to LIFE. The Elder Brother saw no need to die, and so found no LIFE.

Alive but actually dead to GodElder Brothers must realize they can be all righteous and moral but inwardly be walking corpses, dead to God!  Our morality is worthless without a LIVING RELATIONSHIP with our LIVING FATHER!

God is all about the RESURRECTION! He is all about LIFE! And ther can be no SONSHIP without the RELATIONSHIP! The Resurrection will bring all Elder Brothers (and younger) into RELATIONSHIP with the Father!

Most people who read and study The Parable of the Prodigal Son concentrate completely on the character of the younger son, his repentance, and the father’s forgiveness. And yet look at the text. It doesn’t end with the return of the prodigal. Almost half of the story is about the older son. The story is about two sons, who are both alienated from the father, who are both assaulting the unity of the family. Jesus wants us to compare and contrast them. The younger son is “lost”—that is easy to see. We see him shaming his father, ruining his family, sleeping with prostitutes, and we say, “yes, there’s someone who is spiritually lost.” But Jesus’ point is that the older son is lost too. Let’s learn from the text:

      1. A new understanding of Lostness,
      2. Signs of being an Elder Brother
      3. What we can do to join the Feast?.

1. A startling new understanding of LOSTNESS—verse 28.

  • The elder brother would have known that the day of the prodigal’s return was the greatest day in his father’s life.
  • The father has “killed the fattened calf”, an enormously expensive extravagance in a culture where even having meat at meals was considered a delicacy.
  • The older son realized his father was ecstatic with joy. Yet he refused to go into the biggest feast his father has ever put on. This was a remarkable, deliberate act of disrespect. It was his way of saying, “I won’t be part of this family nor respect your headship of it.
  • And the father had to “go out” to plead with him. Just as he went out to bring his alienated younger son into the family, now he had to do the same for the older brother.

Do you realize what Jesus is saying to his listeners, and to us? The Elder Brother is lost ! At the Very Least He is Missing out on Fellowship with His Father and Brother.

  • The father represents God himself, and the meal is the feast of salvation. In the end, then, the younger son, the immoral man, comes in and is saved, but the older son, the good son, refuses to go in and is lost
  • The Pharisees who were listening to this parable knew what that meant. It was a complete reversal of everything they believed. You can almost hear them gasp as the story ends.
  • And what is it that is keeping the elder brother out? It’s because: “All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed…” (v.29). The good son is not lost in spite of his good behavior, but because of his good behavior. So it is not his sin keeping him out, but his righteousness.
  • The gospel is neither religion nor is it irreligion; it is not morality nor is it immorality. This was completely astonishing and confusing to Jesus’ hearers at the time—and it may even be astonishing and confusing to you

Why is the older son lost?

New understanding of Lostnessa) There is No Relationship.
b) There is No Companionship.
c) There is Only a Selfish Child.

The Father Parakaleo – came along side, is a picture of the Holy Spirit, pleading! Come in, Fellowship with me!

The younger brother wanted the father’s wealth, but not the father. So how did he get what he wanted? He left home. He broke the moral rules. But it becomes evident by the end that the elder brother also wanted selfish control of the father’s wealth. He was very unhappy with the father’s use of the possessions—the robe, the ring, the calf. But while the younger brother got control by taking his stuff and running away, we see that the elder brother got control by staying home and being very good. He felt that now he has the right to tell the father what to do with his possessions because he had obeyed him perfectly.

So there are two ways to be your own Savior and Lord.

  • One is by breaking all the laws and being bad.
  • One is by keeping all the laws and being good.

If I can be so good that God has to answer my prayer, give me a good life, and take me to heaven, then in all I do I may be looking to Jesus to be my helper and my rewarder—but he isn’t my Savior. I am then my own Savior.

The difference between a religious person and a true Christian is that the religious person obeys God to get control over God, and things from God, but the Christian obeys just to get God, just to love and please and draw closer to him.

2. ARE YOU AN ELDER BROTHER TYPE?—verses 29-30.

Elder Brother TypesSome people are complete elder brothers. They go to church and obey the Bible—but out of expectation that then God owes them. They have never understood the Biblical gospel at all. But many Christians, who know the gospel, are nonetheless elder-brotherish. Despite the fact that they know the gospel of salvation by grace with their heads, their hearts go back to an elder-brotherish “default mode” of self-salvation.

Here is how to tell if you are infected with the Spirit of the ELDER BROTHER:

  • AN ANGRY SPIRIT (v.28—“became angry”).

But he was angry (ōrgisthē). First aorist (ingressive) passive indicative. But he became angry, he flew into a rage (orgē). This was the explosion as the result of long resentment towards the wayward brother and suspicion of the father’s partiality for the erring son.

If you believe God owes you a good life…
You will be angry…Why does my buddy have a better life…Why is all this going wrong…
Anger is a characteristic-frustrated, hostile
Elder brothers believe that God owes them a comfortable and good life if they try hard and live up to standards—and they have! So they say: “my life ought to be going really well!” and when it doesn’t they get angry. But they are forgetting Jesus. He lived a better life than any of us—but suffered terribly.

  • A Selfish SPIRIT (would not go in)

Would not go in (ouk ēthelen eiselthein). Imperfect tense (was not willing, refused) and aorist active (ingressive) infinitive. Selfish people are Fleshly People. They are Dead, but don’t realize it.

The Elder was dead and did not realize it. The Younger was dead, and realized it.

  • A SPIRIT OF Joyless and Dutiful Obedience (v.29—“I’ve been slaving for you”).

Duty without beauty.
Younger son – I’m not worthy, make me a slave, Father makes him a Son.
Elder son – I’m your obedient son, so he becomes the obedient slave.
You go to college to study to make money
In the world you spend money because it is beauty.
Totally results oriented, becomes a grind, a duty
Elder Brothers pray but not adoring God.
Prayer is a duty, not a beauty.
I obey and obey but I don’t get anything out of it.
Everything went wrong becasue he was faithful and obedient.

Elder brothers obey God as a means to an end—as a way to get the things they really love. Of course, obedience to God is sometimes extremely hard. But elder brothers find obedience virtually always a joyless,
mechanical, slavish thing as a result.

  • A SPIRIT OF Coldness to Younger Brother-types (v.30—“this son of yours”).

You Don’t Rejoice in what the Father Rejoices in. You have Religious and class superiority. If you ground your value in success or hard work, you have to look down your nose at the poor, the perceived lazy.  When you look at people of different races, classes, you look down at them or creeped out at them you are an elder brother.  The older son will not even “own” his brother. Elder brothers are too disdainful of others unlike themselves to be effective in evangelism. Elder brothers, who pride themselves on their doctrinal and moral purity, unavoidably feel superior to those who do not have these things. If you hate other cultural styles and customs, you are an elder brother.
You don’t grow in love in sweetness. Do evidences of the joy and presence of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus doesn’t lash out at them, condemn the Parisees, the ones who will kill him. You are alienated from the Father’s heart, my child, While we were yet enemies, Christ died for us.
The Cross is the greatest challenge to us. We are so messed up that nothing short of the cross will save you. See the humiliation of the Cross, and the Affirmation of His Love for You.

  • A DOUBTING SPIRIT – Lacking Assurance of the Father’s Love (v.29—you never threw me a party).

As long as you are trying to earn your salvation by controlling God through your goodness, you will never be sure you have been good enough. What are the signs of this? Every time something goes wrong in your life you wonder if it’s a punishment. Another sign is irresolvable guilt. You can’t be sure you’ve repented deeply enough, so you beat yourself up over what you did. Lastly, there is a lack of any sense of intimacy with God in your prayer life. You may pray a lot of prayers asking for things, but not sense his love.

  • An Unforgiving, Judgmental Spirit.

The elder brother does not want the father to forgive the younger brother. It is impossible to forgive someone if you feel “I would never do anything that bad!” You have to be something of an elder brother to refuse to forgive.

3. What we can do about this spiritual condition?

How do we Go in to the FeastAnd he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’ ” Luke 15:31-32

First, we have to EXPERIENCE DEATH TO SELF

  • Jesus ends the parable with the lostness of the older brother in order to get across the point that it is a more dangerous spiritual condition. The younger brother knew he was alienated from the father, but the elder brother did not.
  • If you tell moral, religious people who are trying to be good, trying to obey the Bible so God will bless them—that they are alienated from God, they will just be offended. If you know you are sick you may go to a doctor; if you don’t know you’re sick you won’t—you’ll just die.
  • Moralistic religion works on the principle, “I obey, therefore God accepts me.” The gospel works on the principle, “I am accepted by God through Jesus Christ, therefore I obey.”
  • These are two radically different, even opposite, dynamics. Yet both sets of people sit in church together, both pray, both obey the Ten Commandments, but for radically different reasons. And because they do these things for radically different reasons, they produce radically different results—different kinds of character. One produces anger, joyless compliance, superiority, insecurity, and a condemning spirit. The other slowly but inevitably produces contentment, joy, humility, poise, and a forgiving spirit.
  • Unless a person and a congregation knows the difference between general religiosity and the true gospel, people will constantly fall into moralism and elder-brotherishness. And if you call younger brothers to receive Christ and live for him without making this distinction clear, they will automatically think you are inviting them to become elder brothers.
  • Must learn to see yourself through the eyes of the Younger Brother.

Second, we HAVE TO EXPERIENCE LIFE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.

The Father Entreated (parekalei). Imperfect tense, he kept on beseeching him. This is a picture of the Holy Spirit pleading for the Elder Brother to surrender to His Control, to allow Him to be in charge, and thereby experience the feasting of FULL FELLOWSHIP with the Father and the Son.

  • Remember, again, whom Jesus is speaking to (vv.1-2). Jesus is speaking to his mortal enemies, the men he knows will kill him. On the one hand, this is an astonishingly bold challenge to them. He’s talking to those who want to kill him and telling them that they are lost, that they fundamentally misunderstand God’s salvation and purpose in the world, and that they are trampling on the heart of God.
  • But at the same time, he is also being so loving and tender. When the father comes out to the older brother, that is Jesus pleading with his enemies. He is urging them to see their fatal error. Jesus does not scream at his enemies, or smite them, but lovingly urges them to repent and come into his love.

Climb the Ladder to HeavenAnd so we have a foreshadowing of that great moment on the cross when he says, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). This love toward his enemies made him vulnerable and cost him his life. On the cross, instead of blasting his enemies, he lovingly took the penalty of their sins on himself. While we were his enemies, Christ died for us (Rom 5:10).  Knowing what he did for us must drain us of our self-righteousness and our insecurity. We were so sinful he had to die for us. But we were so loved that he was glad to die for us. That takes away both the pride and the fear that makes us elder brothers.

We must stop trying to climb our own ladder to heaven. It is fruitless, it is hopeless. Only when we go to the cross and die to what we are and want and hope, and reach up and take the hand of Jesus – will we have the proper relationship with our Heavenly Father. We will be ALIVE, partakers of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.


Isaiah VisionIn the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts. Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged. Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me. Isaiah 6:1-8

Isaiah did not have a vision until Uzziah died. Uzziah was a man of flesh, of fleshly means, of fleshly confidence. And until the flesh is dead, we cannot see a vision from God! When Isaiah saw his vision, he cried out three simple short words:

  • WOE – a word of confession

  • LO – a word of cleansing

  • GO – a word of commission

woe is meIsaiah’s Vision was Three-Fold

  • It was an upward vision-he saw the Lord
  • It was an inward vision – he saw himself
  • It was an outward vision – he saw the world
  • It was a vision of height – he saw the Lord high and lifted up
  • It was a vision of depth – he saw the recesses of his own heart.
  • It was a vision of breadth – he saw the whole world.
  • A vision of Holiness – Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts:
  • A vision of Hellishness – I am undone
  • A vision of Hopelessness – who will go for us?

Isaiah before throneWhere there is no VISION the people perish, but you can say where there is no PASSION the church perishes, even though it is full of people.

  • A Vision without Passion soon becomes a distant memory..
  • A Passion without a Vision becomes an emotion that fades away.
  • A Vision united with a Passion will produce a Light that fadeth not away.

A Vision of Hell will produce a Passion for the Lost.

Richman in HellJust think of the rich man. He was in Hades, he saw hell, and he wanted someone, anyone to run and tell his brothers about hell. No man lives beyond his vision. Your life will only have as much significance as whatever your focus is on. If you are only focused on yourself, you will be significant only to your self. If because of a VISION from God you focus on the needs of others, you will be significant in ministering to others.

We don’t need to pray for sinners to have a vision of Hell, they simply need a vision of the reality of Calvary as seen by the way we live our lives.

We need to see a Holy God! We need to tremble before Him. We need to let that Vision burn in our souls and ignite a Passion for Righteousness, a Passion for Jesus, a Passion to reach out to those trudging on the road to Hell. Each one of us has an appointment with God. He awaits us in eternity. We had better be at peace with Him here and be in the center of His will NOW!

In chapters 1 through 5 Isaiah has a lot of woes for a lot of people. But in chapter 6 he sees God and sees himself as God sees him and cries WOE is ME! Satan loves to get us looking at other people and all their problems. But God’s Holy Spirit wants us to look at God and realize we are so far from Him!

Its me, its me O Lord, in need of prayer!

Chagall_Bible_Vision_IsaiahIn your soul there are many”rooms“. Are there secret rooms in your life that are shut off from God’s Holy Spirit? Are there rooms where the Holy Spirit is not welcome? Is there a room cluttered with unclean pictures? Are there any skeletons hanging in your closets? Can you invite the Holy Ghost to walk down the corridors of your thought life? Can you invite him in to see the hatred in your heart toward others. Can you invite Him to listen in as you speak evil of others?

isaiah lipsThere are three people living in each of us:

  • the one we think we are,
  • the one other people think we are,
  • and the one God knows we are.

Unless we are desperate to pursue after the Righteousness of Christ, we can be so easy on ourselves and so hard on others. Self loves self. Too often we hide ourselves from ourselves lest the sight of ourselves should sicken ourselves. Let us invite the searching eye of God to locate this corrupted, stinking self in us. Let it be torn from us and be “crucified with Him, that henceforth we should no longer serve sin (Rom 6:6).

It does no good to call sin by another name. You can criticize someone for having a devilish temper, but say that yours is only righteous indignation. You can criticize someone for blatant gossip, but excuse your own negative words about someone as “prayer concerns.” You can excuse your not speaking to a brother or sister or father or mother because of their “ungodly influence and lifestyle” yet God sees your Judging heart and says your are guilty of ungodly pride and un-forgiveness.

The Holy Spirit will neither spare us nor cheat us if we will expose ourselves to His infallible scrutiny.Jesus touches eyes

In Mark 10:51 Jesus asked the blind man “What wilt thou that I should do unto thee?” He replies “Lord, that I might receive sight!”

Let us pray for sight-upward, inward and outward. Then like Isaiah, as we look upward, we will see the Lord in all His Holiness. As we look inward, we will see ourselves and our need for cleansing and power. As we look outward, we will see a world perishing and in need of a Savior.Hell Fire burns for eternity