Stories can captivate our attention and our heart. They help us see ourselves and others more clearly. The story of the Prodigal Son is perhaps one of the most well-known stories told by Jesus. It is the third and final story in a string of parables that Jesus used to critique the religious leaders. They were critical of Jesus’ associating with sinners and tax collectors. Each parable highlights the rejoicing after something lost is eventually found.
We relate to each story because there is a person who is devastated by what has been lost. For example, the shepherd leaves his flock of 99 to look for the one lost sheep. A woman lights a lamp, using precious oil, to look for her lost coin. Have you noticed that in the third parable, no one goes to look for the lost son? In the 1st-century culture, it was often the responsibility of the oldest son, to go look for his younger brother. In Jesus’ parable, the elder son stays home and leaves his father to anxiously wait for the younger son to return (v. 20).
When the younger son eventually returned, the father was elated, and he celebrated with the entire community (vv. 22–24). However, the older son was aghast and angered. How could the father forgive his brother who humiliated the family name, squandered the wealth, and lived a sinful lifestyle (vv. 25 30)?
The older brother in this parable is meant to represent the Pharisees. Like the parable, they too must have been astonished that Jesus would welcome sinners into the kingdom. As the religious experts, it was their duty to go after those that were lost, but they were too self-righteous to give others a second chance. Our God is constantly seeking the lost. When one person puts their trust in Jesus, all of heaven rejoices!
If you have experienced God’s forgiveness, make it your mission to seek others who need another chance, too. Then join the celebration!
“Ah Lord God, behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee.”
At the very time when the Chaldeans surrounded Jerusalem, and when the sword, famine and pestilence had desolated the land, Jeremiah was commanded by God to purchase a field, and have the deed of transfer legally sealed and witnessed. This was a strange purchase for a rational man to make. Prudence could not justify it, for it was buying with scarcely a probability that the person purchasing could ever enjoy the possession. But it was enough for Jeremiah that his God had bidden him, for well he knew that God will be justified of all his children. He reasoned thus: “Ah, Lord God! thou canst make this plot of ground of use to me; thou canst rid this land of these oppressors; thou canst make me yet sit under my vine and my fig-tree in the heritage which I have bought; for thou didst make the heavens and the earth, and there is nothing too hard for thee.”
This gave a majesty to the early saints, that they dared to do at God’s command things which carnal reason would condemn. Whether it be a Noah who is to build a ship on dry land, an Abraham who is to offer up his only son, or a Moses who is to despise the treasures of Egypt, or a Joshua who is to besiege Jericho seven days, using no weapons but the blasts of rams’ horns, they all act upon God’s command, contrary to the dictates of carnal reason; and the Lord gives them a rich reward as the result of their obedient faith. Would to God we had in the religion of these modern times a more potent infusion of this heroic faith in God. If we would venture more upon the naked promise of God, we should enter a world of wonders to which as yet we are strangers. Let Jeremiah’s place of confidence be ours—nothing is too hard for the God that created the heavens and the earth.
When Joseph was confronted with sexual temptation (Genesis 39:11–23), he didn’t stay put and try to resist it; rather, “he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house” (v. 12). The New Testament commands us to “flee from sexual immorality” (1 Corinthians 6:18). We’re to run away from it—not toward it—as fast as we can, and to keep as far away as possible (Proverbs 5:8).
We should beware of overestimating our ability to resist it and underestimating its power. Running from sexual temptation by the enabling of the Spirit isn’t the act of a coward; it’s the strength of a person committed to following Jesus.
Twice this summer I suffered the scourge of poison ivy. Both times it happened, I was working on clearing away unwanted plant growth from our yard. And both times, I saw the nasty, three-leafed enemy lurking nearby. I figured I could get close to it without it affecting me. Soon enough, I realized I’d been wrong. Instead of getting nearer to my little green nemesis, I should have run the other way!
In the Old Testament story of Joseph, we see modeled the principle of running from something worse than poison ivy: sin. When he was living in the home of Egyptian official Potiphar, whose wife tried to seduce him, Joseph didn’t try to get close—he ran.
Although she falsely accused him and had him thrown in prison, Joseph remained pure throughout the episode. And as we see in Genesis 39:21, “The Lord was with him.”
God can help us flee activities and situations that could lead us away from Him—guiding us to run the other way when sin is nearby. In 2 Timothy 2:22, Paul writes, “Flee the evil desires.” And in 1 Corinthians 6:18, he says to “flee from sexual immorality.”
In God’s strength, may we choose to run from those things that could harm us.
When you encounter new people, whether at the grocery, pool, laundromat, work, or school, what is the first thing you think?
The very first thing the 72 are instructed to do upon entering a house with strangers is to proclaim, “May peace be on this house.”
Encountering new people who are different from us can often lead us directly into judgment. Our minds may jump to make assumptions about what a person believes, how much money they have, who they want to vote for, or what they are thinking about us. But what if we adopt the instruction Jesus gave the 72? What if we accept the invitation to proclaim “peace” first?
Even if we don’t exclaim loudly to the world, “PEACE,” when encountering someone new, if we allow ourselves to lead with God’s peace rather than judgment, this may positively impact the way we encounter the world. Being mindful of one small word of peace may allow us to make a big difference in the way we treat those around us.
Does the Bible prophesy a one-world government and a one-world currency in the end times?
The Bible does not use the phrase “one-world government” or “one-world currency” in referring to the end times. It does, however, provide ample evidence to enable us to draw the conclusion that both will exist under the rule of the Antichrist in the last days.
In his apocalyptic vision in the Book of Revelation, the Apostle John sees the “beast,” also called the Antichrist, rising out of the sea having seven heads and ten horns (Revelation 13:1). Combining this vision with Daniel’s similar one (Daniel 7:16-24), we can conclude that some sort of world system will be inaugurated by the beast, the most powerful “horn,” who will defeat the other nine and will begin to wage war against Christians. The ten-nation confederacy is also seen in Daniel’s image of the statue in Daniel 2:41-42, where he pictures the final world government consisting of ten entities represented by the ten toes of the statue. Whoever the ten are and however they come to power, Scripture is clear that the beast will either destroy them or reduce their power to nothing more than figureheads. In the end, they will do his bidding.
John goes on to describe the ruler of this vast empire as having power and great authority, given to him by Satan himself (Revelation 13:2), being followed by and receiving worship from “all the world” (13:3-4), and having authority over “every tribe, people, language and nation” (13:7). From this description, it is logical to assume that this person is the leader of a one-world government which is recognized as sovereign over all other governments. It’s hard to imagine how such diverse systems of government as are in power today would willingly subjugate themselves to a single ruler, and there are many theories on the subject. A logical conclusion is that the disasters and plagues described in Revelation as the seal and trumpet judgments (chapters 6-11) will be so devastating and create such a monumental global crisis that people will embrace anything and anyone who promises to give them relief.
Once entrenched in power, the beast (Antichrist) and the power behind him (Satan) will move to establish absolute control over all peoples of the earth to accomplish their true end, the worship Satan has been seeking ever since being thrown out of heaven (Isaiah 14:12-14). One way they will accomplish this is by controlling all commerce, and this is where the idea of a one-world currency comes in. Revelation 13:16-17 describes some sort of satanic mark which will be required in order to buy and sell. This means anyone who refuses the mark will be unable to buy food, clothing or other necessities of life. No doubt the vast majority of people in the world will succumb to the mark simply to survive. Again, verse 16 makes it clear that this will be a universal system of control where everyone, rich and poor, great and small, will bear the mark on their hand or forehead. There is a great deal of speculation as to how exactly this mark will be affixed, but the technologies that are available right now could accomplish it very easily.
Those who are left behind after the Rapture of the Church will be faced with an excruciating choice—accept the mark of the beast in order to survive or face starvation and horrific persecution by the Antichrist and his followers. But those who come to Christ during this time, those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life (Revelation 13:8), will choose to endure, even to martyrdom.
Our God remains incomprehensible and retains His simplicity. He tells us in His Word that He is not a God of confusion but of order. He is not at war with Himself. He is altogether good, altogether holy, and altogether sovereign. This we must affirm to maintain a biblical concept of divine sovereignty. Yet we must always balance this understanding with a clear understanding that God always exercises His power and authority according to His holy character.
He chooses what He chooses according to His own good pleasure. It is His pleasure that He does.
He chooses what is pleasing to Himself. But that pleasure is always His good pleasure, for God is never pleased to will or to do anything that is evil or contrary to His own goodness.
In this we can rest, knowing that He wishes for, and has the power to bring about, all good things for us His children.
What difficulties are you currently facing? Reaffirm your trust in the sovereignty of God, who is working all things together for His good pleasure.
We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. (1 John 3:14)
So, love is the evidence that we are born again — that we are Christians, that we are saved.
Sometimes the Bible makes our holiness and our love for people the condition of our final salvation. In other words, if we are not holy and not loving, we will not be saved at the judgment day (e.g., Hebrews 12:14; Galatians 5:21; 1 Corinthians 6:10). This doesn’t mean that acts of love are how we get right with God. No, the Bible is clear again and again as Ephesians 2:8–9 says, “By grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not of works, so that no one may boast.” No, when the Bible says that we are saved by faith but that we must love people in order to finally be saved, it means that faith in God’s promises must be so real that the love it produces proves the reality of the faith.
So, love for others is a condition of future grace in the sense that it confirms that the primary condition, faith, is genuine. We could call love for others a secondary condition, which confirms the authenticity of the primary and essential condition of faith which alone unites us to Christ, and receives his power.
Faith perceives the glory of God in the promises of future grace and embraces all that the promises reveal of what God is for us in Jesus. That spiritual sight of God’s glory, and our delight in it, is the self-authenticating evidence that God has called us to be a beneficiary of his grace. This evidence frees us to bank on God’s promise as our own. And this banking on the promise empowers us to love. Which in turn confirms that our faith is real.
The world is desperate for a faith that combines two things: awestruck sight of unshakable divine Truth, and utterly practical, round-the-clock power to make a liberating difference in life. That’s what I want too. Which is why I am a Christian.
There is a great God of grace who magnifies his own infinite beauty and self-sufficiency by fulfilling promises to helpless people who trust him. And there is a power that comes from prizing this God that leaves no nook or cranny of life untouched. It empowers us to love in the most practical ways.