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Bible Pathways 10/27/2002

October 27

Read Luke 14 -- 16

In Today’s Reading:

Humility; more parables; prodigal son; rich man and Lazarus.

Our Lord illustrates two alternatives in life. The first is that of a self-centered prodigal son who demanded freedom from his father's authority, and then took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance (inheritance). . . . When he had spent all . . . he began to be in want. . . . And no man gave [to] him. And when he came to himself, he said . . . I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say [to] him, Father, I have sinned against Heaven, and . . . [you] (Luke 15:13-18). The word "prodigal" means a waster; he wasted his father's substance. As he struggled with a sense of emptiness and the shame of a wasted life, he finally came to his senses and humbly returned to his father saying: Father, I have sinned against Heaven, and in [your] sight (15:21). The second lifestyle was after he had repented and his father made him aware of the seriousness of his sin: This my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry (to celebrate) (15:24).

Just as the prodigal son discovered that his father's compassion and love were far greater than he had realized, so too will every repentant sinner discover that the Heavenly Father is waiting with great love and compassion to forgive all who come to Him. However, it does not, and cannot, restore or reverse the result of wasted years. It is an inevitable and irreversible law of the universe that [whatever] a man [sows], that shall he also reap (Galatians 6:7).

Jesus also told of a rich businessman who never recognized that he had "wasted" his life, for he had become "very successful." But he died sooner than he expected. He might even have been a deacon in the First Church and had an extravagant funeral where the preacher told what a fine man he had been. But, in hell . . . being in torments. . . . He cried . . . I am tormented in this flame (Luke 16:23-24). It was only then that he discovered that hell was eternal and that, between him and Abraham, there was a great gulf fixed (16:26). He sinned not only by ignoring his own eternal spiritual needs, but by not considering the needs of the beggar Lazarus or anyone else. He had lived for self-gratification. The rich man's preoccupation with success crowded out any desire to use his abilities for the glory of God.

The foremost purpose of our brief lives on earth is to prepare for an endless eternity and then do what we can to provide spiritual food for those who have no other way of obtaining it. Since the believer's true citizenship is in Heaven (Philippians 3:20), we dare not make secular goals, material gain, and physical satisfactions our priorities. All mankind, rich or poor, has one thing in common -- physical death will open the door either to eternal life or eternal hell. With this rich man who was tormented in this flame, we see the tragic difference in the destiny of being lost or saved. Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard. . . . How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation (Hebrews 2:1,3).

Thought for Today: Have you "wasted" your life, like the prodigal? Return to the Father; He is lovingly waiting to welcome you.

Word Studies:

14:32 an ambassage = a delegation; representatives; 15:16 would fain = willingly longed to; 16:11 unrighteous mammon = a term of reproach in the use of wealth or money.

Cross Reference:

For Luke 16:15: See Proverbs 21:2.

Prayer Needs:

Government Official: Rep. Maurice Hinchey (NY) · Pray for the missionary ministries · Country: Bosnia and Hercegovina (4 million) on the Balkan Peninsula in southeastern Europe · Major language: Serbo-Croatian · Little evangelism being done · 40% Muslim; 28% Serbian Orthodox; 14% Roman Catholic · Prayer Suggestion: Rejoice that Jesus’ blood has cleansed you from sin (I John 1:7,9).

Memory Verse for the Week: Philippians 2:16

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