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Journey of an Elder Brother Day Eighteen

Parable of Lost SonsSome suggest we no longer call this the Parable of the Prodigal Son, but the Parable of the Lost Sons. I suggest that we 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 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)

God of HopeThe 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.

Jesus is AliveJesus declared this when he answered the Sadducee’s:  “He is not God of the dead, but of the living.Matthew 22:32

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).

God 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.

TThe Resurrectionhe 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.

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 LIFE, 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.

Matthew 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.

PrayWallFThe 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 his RESURRECTION and their restored RELATIONSHIP.

baby drinking milkPaul 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 the Elder Brother a child, and Paul called the Corinthians babies!

What makes the difference? How do we Elder Brother Types become SONS? How do Babes become mature, able to chomp down on meat? 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)

Walk in the SpiritWe 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, to SONSHIP. The Elder Brother saw no need to die, and so found no LIFE.

Father: Enable me to die to self, and to walk in the newness of LIFE in the Holy Spirit. May our RELATIONSHIP be the number one priority of my life!

Journey of an Elder Brother Day Fifteen

John Baptist by MeltonJohn the Baptist was an only child. His parents were very old when he was born, and he may have been orphaned at an early age. We don’t know much about John except he was STRANGE! Funny clothes, funny food, he was an outcast in hygiene conscious Israel. There was something about his message though. Crowds from all over Israel came to hear this strange looking man speak. His message was harsh, demanding, Holy. People responded, and those that responded with insincerity he rebuked. He feared not what man could do to him. He was focused on the Word from God. He was a prophet of God. He had a job to do.

Jesus-Baptized-09Anyone looking at John knew instantly that he was the Elder Brother Type. Hard, demanding, disciplined, driven, purposeful. His task was to prepare the way for one mightier than he – the Messiah. It was a task only an Elder Brother could do. John threw his heart and soul into his task. Then, one day, he saw this one whom he had been preaching about. At first he refused to baptize Jesus, but the Messiah insisted, and John obeyed.

Such an honor for an Elder Brother. They enjoy being in the limelight. They enjoy accomplishing their mission. They hate the thought of failure. Such thoughts were on John’s mind later on, after the lights had faded, and he found himself in prison. There was no fanfare now, no admiring crowds. John the Elder Brother was at the end of his mission, his life, yet he had not seen the Messiah come forth with power as he had presumed.

John_the_Baptist003The doubts were eating at John. He considered himself a failure. This was not how it was supposed to end. He imagined the Stellar Rise of the Messiah, with the crowds hoisting John on their shoulders as they sang his praises for preparing the way. Yet no Messiah came forth, the crowds were off following others. He was imprisoned, forgotten.

Word came to our brooding Elder Brother about Jesus of Nazareth and the amazing things He was doing. John the Elder Brother was anxious to know if he had done his task well, to hear encouraging words, perhaps even a thank you. Scriptures record:

Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.” Matthew 11:2-6

Jesus refused to answer John directly, but closed his remarks with “Blessed is the one who is not offended by me!” What kind of answer is that? This doesn’t sound like a very loving Savior! This is no way to treat the one who prepared the way for you!

Jesus blessed are youJohn’s response is not recorded, but if you understand Elder Brother’s, you know how he responded. Elder Brother’s love accomplishment, and through His message Jesus revealed to John that his mission had truly been accomplished. His disciples delivered this word from Jesus and expected Johnt to be upset, but John just laid back down and started laughing. Jesus had just reminded him of something he had said in the wilderness, when his disciples asked him about Jesus baptizing at the same time as John.

In John 3:30, John had said “He must increase, and I must decrease!” In one swift blow Jesus had assured John and had thanked him as well! John had let the Elder Brother in him get the best of him. He had started to get offended because things weren’t going as John had thought they should. Jesus reminded John that He is Lord! And John is blessed when he doesn’t get offended at what the Lord is doing!

Wow! This is a lesson that EVERY Elder Brother must learn. Elder Brothers like things under control, according to their plan. But Jesus wants us to learn that He must be in charge, His plan is what is important, and we will be blessed if we realize He is Lord!

john-the-baptist-imprisonedFor a moment, John the Baptist was being the Elder Brother, and focusing on his situation and what he supposed was or wasn’t going according to schedule. He was frustrated, depressed, concerned, even bewildered. Elder Brothers will get that way because we are so intent on getting our way and accomplishing our tasks.

BUT JESUS!

Elder Brothers, look to Jesus, and surrender what you want to Him! And then DO NOT GET OFFENDED when He does things differently than what you want! Jesus must increase, and we must decrease!

Father: Everything I want to accomplish today I surrender to you, Father! Your will and purpose are supreme! May I not get upset or offended when things do not go my way! Keep everything going YOUR WAY!

Journey of an Elder Brother Day Eleven

Apostle-Paul-Citizen-of-Hea

The Apostle Paul was an Elder Bother who was transformed by the sight of our True Elder Brother, Jesus Christ. Jesus did not change his personality, his looks, his drive; Jesus simply re-focused it. Elder Brother types will always be Elder Brother types. We can’t help it. But in order to be Godly Elder Brothers, we must allow Jesus to change our focus, our motivation.

The Father was focused on the needs of the younger brother. The fact that he saw him coming a long way off means that he constantly looked for this son to return. His focus was on the return of his son. We see this same focus from parents who have had a child taken. Their present world comes to a halt and their entire focus becomes one occupied with the finding of their child.

TWhat is your focushe Elder Son kept his focus on the things and the tasks around him. He was still working in the field while the whole village was inside feasting with the younger brother. Even after he discovered the cause for the feast, his focus remained on the expense and upon himself.

What transformed Paul? We know it was the vision of Jesus, and his connectedness with the other Christians. But what kept Paul going years later, when he was being beaten, when he was imprisoned, when he was shipwreck. I believe he saw things through new eyes. He reveals this in Philippians 3:20-21:

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

Paul saw himself as neither Jew nor Greek, nor a Roman citizen. He saw himself as a Citizen of Heaven. But much more than that, he saw himself IN HEAVEN, and it was from HEAVEN that he waited for His Savior!

This picture is all wrong, isn’t it? After all, we wait for Jesus to return to the earth and take us BACK to heaven, don’t we? Jesus is at the right hand of the Father, making intercession for us, isn’t He? Yes he is, but He is also doing some major construction. How dare we limit Jesus to just one place.

Jesus returns2All Paul knew was that he was a citizen of heaven, and from HEAVEN he awaited His Savior! Could that mean that wherever Paul was he saw it as heaven? But when he was writing Philippians he was in a Roman prison! That certainly wasn’t heaven!

What is your focus going to be? What do you see when you examine your surroundings? Do you see the filth, the unfinished tasks, the things in disarray, the problems with friends and family, the irritations, the sins of the younger brother, the wastefulness of the father?

Paul saw himself in heaven no matter where he was. Whether in the ocean, in prison, in jail, underneath stones, being whipped, being scourged. He saw himself in heaven! And he was always looking for the return of His Savior, who would transform his broken and bruised body, to be like His glorified body!

this man jesus by meltonAre you an Elder Brother type? Change your focus. Instead of working so hard to organize your world, realize (if Christ lives in you), that you are in heaven! See heaven in your surroundings, in your circumstances, in your despair, in your hurts, in your loneliness. If Christ lives in you, you are in heaven right now, wherever you are. Look, down the road, is that the Savior coming to you?

Paul became a transformed Elder Brother because his eyes had been opened to see Jesus. From that day on, Jesus was all he focused on.

Father: Open my eyes to see the Power of Christ living in me. Change my focus from one of selfishness, self-righteousness, anything of my self, and keep me ever looking for my Savior!

Journey of an Elder Brother Day Nine

uzzah touiches arkElder Brothers are usually more responsible, more careful, and more critical when it comes to their jobs or tasks. I always wanted Elder Brother types to be managers or team leaders when I was in the business world. They usually took a personal ownership attitude toward their responsibilities. However, Elder Brother types usually don’t work well in church situations.  They tend to want to give God too much of a hand, and rely more on their own strength and not upon the Lord.

Classic example occurred when David was moving the Ark of the Covenant from the home of Abinadab to its rightful place. The two brothers Uzzah and Ahio were responsible for the move, driving the ox cart. Normally Uzzah, being the elder, would have driven, but he wanted to keep a close eye on the Ark, as he considered it his job to make sure it arrived in good order. So he let his younger brother drive. I’m sure Uzzah told him to keep away from the threshing floor of Nacon, but you know how those younger brothers are. He probably got lost in all the attention and failed to notice the oxen heading for the grain. I’m sure Uzzah had some harsh words for Ahio as the oxen left the road and rushed toward the grain of the threshing floor. The ground was getting more uneven, the oxen were getting faster, the Ark was rocking with the cart. Uzzah knew for sure that unless he steadied the Ark, it would continue to wobble until it fell off the cart. He couldn’t let that happen! What would God do if His Ark fell off the cart and broke? The Ark needed the steadying arm of Uzzah, so he did what any Elder Brother would do – he gave God a hand.

Uzzah Did Not Heed the LordYou know what happened. God didn’t want Uzzah’s help. In fact, God struck Uzzah dead on the spot.

Elder Brothers do not understand this story. Even David got mad at God. How could God do such a thing? All Uzzah was trying to do was help! Don’t you want us to take our jobs seriously, to always do our best?

God wants us to do whatever we do with all our hearts. But God wants things done His way and not our way. Paul put it this way when describing how slaves should work for their masters:

Try to please them all the time, not just when they are watching you. As slaves of Christ, do the will of God with all your heart. Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Ephesians 6:6-7

As an Elder Brother, Uzzah thought he was doing right. He was taking ownership of the Ark. He was doing his best to take care of it. But he was so wrong. God had prescribed precisely how the Ark was to be transported and touched. He expected His will to be followed to the letter. He did not need anyone revising His rules. He did not need a hand in transporting the Ark. He simply needed willing hands combined with willing hearts that were obedient to His Word.

Ive got this under control

I've Got this Under Control!

Elder Brothers must guard against the attitude that “I know how to do this.” “I don’t need anyone telling me what to do.” “I’ve got this under control.” Getting to know the Father’s heart requires obedience, but not unless it is from a humble heart. You may be a skilled, talented Elder Brother Manager in the business world. Your bosses may love what you are doing. But that doesn’t work in God’s House. In God’s House those that walk after His Spirit are to be in charge. Those that walk after their flesh are not welcome.

Uzzah did what was right under normal conditions. Elder Brothers will normally do what is right. There is a way which seems right to man, but the end thereof is death.

God does not want us to be right. Anyone can do what is right. God wants our hearts to be dependent upon Him, and to obey Him! That means Elder Brothers must humble themselves before the Father, and set aside what they think is right. They must depend upon the Father for their very life! The younger brother learned this lesson and was saved. But Elder Brothers have a hard time with humility and depending upon someone else.

Father: Open my eyes to see You, and to see how wrong I am. Take my heart and teach me to depend totally upon You! May Your Word be the only light for my path.

Journey of an Elder Brother Day Eight

Tompkins Family 1970As an Elder Brother I must confess I was never close to my earthly father, especially growing up. He was typical of most fathers at the time-not touchy feely, not very open, a man of few words; but when he spoke, you obeyed because you feared the consequences. Even as a young man working for him, we were never very close. I knew he loved me and had my best interests at heart, but there never was a closeness that some sons enjoy. He was always gone in those important 4-14 years, a traveling salesman. When he was home it was usually in a disciplinary fashion. Mom had had enough of dealing with three and then four rambunctious boys all week long. Friday evening was reckoning time around our house. I loved my Dad, I respected my Dad, I even feared my Dad, but I never felt close to my Dad.

Jonathon-attacks-PhilistineJonathon must have had that type of relationship with his father Saul. Saul had great responsibilities leading Israel, but he was a poor father. He was even a poor King. One day (1 Sam 14) Jonathon did a typical Elder Brother thing. He went with his armor bearer and tackled a guardpost of Philistines deep in Israeli territory. They killed as many as 20 men, causing the other Philistines to think an army was upon them. King Saul was told what was going on and ordered an assault. The Philistines were in disarray and suffered heavy casualties. Saul was so focused on complete victory that he ordered his soldiers to not eat or drink anything until all the Philistines were killed. His men were weak from hunger and thirst. Jonathon, unaware of the command, dipped his spear in some honey and was instantly energized after eating it. When told of the command of his father, he said the order was nonsense.

King Saul Orders attackKing Saul inquired of the Lord to get further military instructions (at least he was still trying to follow the Lord at this point). No Word from God came. He was upset and sought to find out the cause. Even if it was his own son, Jonathon, the perpetrator would be killed. The answer came back that Jonathon was indeed the cause, and Saul ordered him KILLED! The people intervened and Jonathon was spared. Some dad eh? All mine ever did was spank me!

Imagine how difficult it would be for Jonathon to get close to that kind of father. Selfish, conceited, unloving, such was King Saul. Fortunately, as a young teenager my life was influenced by a Divine Father who desired a close relationship with me. I discovered He is the most loving Father anyone could want. We all need to be loved, to have close friends, even us Elder Brother types.

Touch Hem to be WholeWhen Jesus walked this earth, people were drawn to Him, but only those who had a relationship with Him were changed. Mark 6:56 reveals why: “as many as touched (háptomai) him were made whole.” We think that the tactile touch was all it took, but the word haptomai means much more than a physical touch. This “TOUCH” means that “the handling of an object was done in such a manner as to exert a modifying influence upon it or upon oneself”.

I experienced such a TOUCH in times of reading my Father’s Word, in times of praying with my Father. Those ‘touches” exerted a modifying influence upon me, upon my heart.

When I was 19, my earthly father touched me with a confession. With tears in his eyes he told me that God had given him a second chance, and he asked my forgiveness for not being around when I was growing up. I remember the converstaion as if it was yesterday.

Father-and-Elder-BrotherSuch is this God, this Divine Father that loves us so much. When He touches our heart, we are never the same. That touch will open our hearts to those around us, those in our care. When God touches us with His Love and Forgiveness, it gives us the ability to Love others!

Elder Brothers need to be touched, need to have our hearts opened up to the needs of those around us. The Elder Brother in the parable of the Prodigal Son kept his heart closed, resisting the touch of his father. The younger brother had nowhere to go, so he eagerly accepted the touch and kisses of his father.

jonathan_davidJonathon met a younger brother named David, and their souls became knit together. Jonathon gave everything he had to care for David. He was the Elder Brother that David needed when everyone else was against David. Jonathon was even the target of his father’s own spear because of his love for David. The time came for David to go into hiding because it was obvious King Saul wanted him dead. Jonathon and David met secretly and said their goodbyes, “Then David bowed three times to Jonathan with his face to the ground. Both of them were in tears as they embraced each other and said good-bye, especially David.” (1 Sam 20:41)

Have you been touched by your earthly father? Have you been touched by your Heavenly Father? Is there a younger brother who has been touched by you? Will there be tears when you say goodbye?

My dad went to be with God in 1995 at the age of 63. In typical Elder Brother fashion I was the strong one during the funeral and the days following. I could not cry. I drove down to my Mom and Dad’s home in Destin Fl, to get some things of my dad. While I was there, trying on some of his clothes, it finally hit me. I broke down and wept and wept and wept. I don’t know how long, I only know I had never wept like that before. It was at that time I renewed my commitment to my Divine Father to serve Him and to answer the call to preach that He had given me 24 years earlier.

Jim-Tompkins-Sr-My-DadIn those few moments alone with the last remnants of my earthly father, my heart had finally been touched in a way to open my heart and eyes to the needs of others.

Dad, thanks for touching me with your life, thanks for opening my heart to serving the younger brothers around me. Your touch continues to be upon my life all these years later. When I preach, when I teach, when I serve, I know it is your touch that is by my side.

Father: Thank you for those who touch our lives. Would you open our hearts to be sensitive to the needs of all those around us. Would you allow us Elder Brothers to touch you and be made whole!

Journey of an Elder Brother Day Six

abraham-pray

Abraham had his doubts

Abram behaved as a True Elder Brother when he went after and rescued his nephew Lot. The Elder Brother is to be the responsible one, and protect the family. He spared no expense in rescuing his nephew. Yet after wards, he did a very ‘un-elderly brother’ thing when he refused the loot offered by the King of Sodom. This is what made Abram a Godly Elder Brother – his focus was on his relationship with the Father, not on “stuff”.

But he must have had his doubts. It is hard for Elder Brothers to not think ‘practically’. That is why God appeared to him in Genesis 15:1,

“Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.”

God never wastes words. He would not have told Abram not to fear if fear was not in his heart. Perhaps he was afraid his following this invisible Jehovah was a waste. After all, Jehovah had still not provided him with an heir. What kind of God is that? So he complained to Jehovah:

“O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.”

Abram the Elder Brother was responsible, obedient and childless. His labors would all be in vain if he had no heir. So fear was in his heart. Do I keep following Jehovah, or return to the gods of my forefathers? After all, Abram began life as an idolater in a foreign land.

milky-wayGod could see the fear and hesitation in his heart, just as He sees the fear and hesitation in every Elder Brothers heart. So Jehovah took Abram outside and showed him the Milky Way. “Your descendants will be as many as the stars!” In that moment, Abram believed Jehovah, and it was counted unto him as righteousness.

A simple display and Word from Jehovah was all it took to dispel the fear in Abrams heart. When fear gripped his heart and he started to lean on his own understanding, he looked to the stars and believed the Word of God!

Abram Believed God

Abram Believed God

Elder Brothers, if you have doubts and fears about your labors and what good they are, open the Word of God and look for His promises to you. Ask Him for a special Word that will dispel the fear from your heart. Elder Brothers mask their insecurities with hard work, tasks and accomplishments. Yet inwardly we are beset by fear and doubt. Is this all worth while? Will anyone appreciate what I have done when I am gone? Will my children realize all I have sacrificed for them?

Look to the heavens, and hear the Word of Jehovah! His love for you is overwhelming. He is building His Kingdom on the backs of His faithful and hardworking Elder Brothers. We are the ones who must rescue our captured kinsmen.

Father: Open my heart to hearing your assuring voice, open my eyes to see your wondrous power!

Journey of an Elder Brother Day Five

saul-reproached-by-samuel

Elder Brother Saul

Adulterous Woman

Adulterous Woman

As an Elder Brother, I believe we think that sometimes we can get away with disobeying the rules. We tend to think we are above the law because we are naturally so responsible and driven. We don’t want some stupid rules getting in the way of what WE THINK is important. I know the Pharisees expected everyone to obey the laws they set forth, but secretly had laws that applied only to them. Who can say whether the arrogance of the Elder Brother was masking his own secret disobedience (remember the Elder Brothers bringing the adulterous woman to Jesus)?

Saul was definitely an Elder Brother. God was testing him as he does all Elder Brothers on two points: Faith and Obedience. Faith is needed to see and know the Father’s heart. Obedience is required because the Father is the source of ALL BLESSINGS.

But Elder Brothers hate to wait. Just ask them. Always in a hurry, always moving on to the next task. Saul was kept waiting for the Prophet Samuel in 1 Sam 13. He was told to tarry “till I come”. He failed the test of faith and obedience. Elder Brothers must learn to wait upon God, and not rely upon their own resources.

Saul disobeys God

King Saul Disobeys God

Then again in 1 Samuel 15, Saul was told to destroy Amalek utterly. Everything must be destroyed. But the bleating of the sheep gave him away. Saul was acting like the Elder Brother, focusing on the THINGS and not focusing on OBEYING the FATHER! He even believed he had obeyed, because most Elder Brothers believe they follow a different set of rules.

Saul learned too late that the Father values Faith and Obedience. The younger son realized when he reached the end of himself, and came home. The Elder Brother was home, but in his own self-reliance obeyed his own set of rules, and failed by FAITH to see the Father’s heart.

Are you an Elder Brother like me? Then the two greatest tests you will face are the tests of Faith and Obedience. There is no Word from God too small to be obeyed. We must learn to empty ourselves of any self-reliance, and cling totally upon the Lord. Then we must learn to wait. Waiting is the hardest thing for Elder Brothers to do. Always give the Father ONE MORE DAY to show His Power!

Father: Teach me to lean totally upon you, and teach me the joy of waiting upon you!

Journey of an Elder Brother Day Four

peter the elder brotherElder brothers are never lost for an opinion. Too often they shoot first and tend to the wounded second. The elder brother’s words must have hurt the father deeply. They were spoken in anger and with attitude.

Peter was an elder brother. He was quick to spout his opinion, right or wrong. His mouth often got him into trouble. How did Peter learn to be slow to speak his mind? He was interrupted by God! On the Mount of Transfiguration, God interrupted Peter and said, “This is my beloved Son, HEAR HIM!”  In Capernaum, Peter spoke quickly and committed Jesus to paying the temple tax. When he was about to tell Jesus, Jesus interrupted him and “spake first to him” to correct his false ideas on the matter. Then in Caesarea, while Peter was still preaching, the Holy Spirit shut Peter’s mouth by an amazing miracle, so that Peter’s six companions were “amazed”. Father, Son and Holy Spirit each interrupted Peter’s speech.

transfiguration-of-JesusThis elder brother, who was so quick to speak his mind, learned valuable lessons at the interruption of the Divine Trinity. This is why he could write of the value of good speech:

To sum up, you should all be of one mind living like brothers with true love and sympathy for each other, generous and courteous at all times. Never pay back a bad turn with a bad turn or an insult with another insult, but on the contrary pay back with good. For this is your calling – to do good and one day to inherit all the goodness of God. For: ‘He who would love life and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips from speaking guile: let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayers; but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil’. 1 Peter 3:8-12

peter speechPeter knew all too well that the eyes of the Lord were upon him. He had seen Him intervene when he was rushing foolishly headlong. Are you an Elder Brother like me? Learn to listen to the Lord before you speak. Be slow to speak and quick to love.

Father: Teach me that you are always listening to my speech, and to let your love guide my words.

Journey of an Elder Brother Day Two

Grace

Elder brothers have a hard time understanding grace. O sure, we like the idea of all those riches given to us. But when it comes to the concept of doing NOTHING to obtain those riches, we just don’t get it. We are so used to EARNING our way. This world belongs to the strong, the hard working, the aggressive. Elder Brothers are goal oriented. If we don’t have goals to work toward, we are nothing. To think that someone weak and even lazy could get all those riches is repulsive to us. Elder Brothers like to boast of their accomplishments. How can you brag about something you did nothing to obtain?

Paul Rejoices in WeaknessPaul must have been an Elder Brother. He was driven. He was aggressive. He had a lot to brag about. But something happened to him. He was brought face to face with Jesus. He was brought face to face with how truly weak and insignificant he was. Jesus changed his heart. Even after he had the greatest experience any human can have, to be taken up to heaven, to hear words too marvelous to even be uttered, he told no one about it. He waited 14 years to even mention it. If he had been a real Elder Brother, he would have written a book, appeared on Oprah or something. No, something happened to Paul, something called grace.

Grace-and-the-Elder-BrotherIn 2 Corinthians 12 Paul mentions that experience of 14 years prior, but his emphasis is on his weakness, not his accomplishments.

Therefore, I have cheerfully made up my mind to be proud of my weaknesses, because they mean a deeper experience of the power of Christ. I can even enjoy weaknesses, suffering, privations, persecutions and difficulties for Christ’s sake. For my very weakness makes me strong in him.

Paul glories in Weakness2Elder Brothers need to experience grace. We can’t comprehend it with our brain. We have to know it first hand. Elder Brothers often become bitter and judgmental rather than experience humility through trials and hardship. Elder Brothers either try to cover up their weaknesses, and push on; or they experience God’s Grace when they do as Paul did, humble themselves and rejoice in their weaknesses.

Prayer: Father, enable me to rejoice in my weaknesses and to experience your grace. May I glory not in my accomplishments, but in Your Strength, Your Riches!



Journey of an Elder Brother Day One

HypocriteJesus warned His followers to NOT be like the hypocrites. (Matthew 6:5) He didn’t name names, but I think everyone knew He was pointing at the religious leaders (Pharisees, Sadducees).

Tourist and hypocritesAnyone who has ever been in a foreign country with different language and customs understands what Jesus was talking about. When you go to a strange country, even though you don’t wear the funny shirt and silly hat, you will stick out as a tourist. You may try to speak the language, try to follow their customs, but it will be forced, it will be unnatural to you. A hypocrite is acting, doing something, speaking something that is not natural to them. When they are in their native setting, they will reveal their true identity.

Martha is an elder brotherI believe elder brothers are natural hypocrites. We are driven to be responsible, to be in charge, and we often find ourselves doing and acting responsibly even though our heart is not in it. But that is how we are wired. The challenge for elder brothers is to develop a pure heart, a sincere heart, a heart that seeks after God’s heart. To understand an elder brother, look at Martha as contrasted with Mary. Mary followed her heart, while Martha did what was needed. It did not matter what Martha wanted to do, she was simply driven to do what had to be done, because she was the responsible one. She sought approval by her works, while Mary simply wanted to be by Jesus.

Elder Brothers must ask God to examine their hearts, and reveal any hypocrisy, any selfishness, any pride. Elder Brothers will have a tendency to put on a responsible mask at church and then be very self-serving in their work and career. To an Elder Brother, Church can simply be a means of respectability in the eyes of others. Jesus would rather us be a Mary, or the younger brother who realizes he messed up yet repents and returns to the Father.

Jesus challenges elder brothers to discover the desires of their heart, and then give them to Him. Over the next few weeks, I must allow His heart to be my heart, without hypocrisy or selfishness.

Journey of an Elder Brother will be a feeble attempt to chronicle my journey through “The Prodigal God”.