Tag Archives: Life

Elder Brothers: Clear Your Ears and Go In

father pleads with olders sonThe Father pleaded (‘parakaleo’) with the Elder Brother to come in and enjoy the feast with his brother. It was a call to fellowship, it was a call to relationship, it was a call to repentance from his selfish and unloving ways. Much the same way our paraclete (Holy Spirit) comes alongside us each and every day. We can have the same reaction that the Elder Brother had. His reaction is described in Zechariah 7:11: “But they refused to pay attention and turned a stubborn shoulder and stopped their ears that they might not hear.

cover ears upHard to believe isn’t it, that this Elder Brother refused the Father’s pleadings. Not really. Most people are good at stopping their ears at times. Sometimes we’ll even murmur to cover any sound. This is why Jesus mentioned several times “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.”

hands-over-earsPaul experienced people covering their ears, but one instance was notable and recorded in Acts 28:

For this reason, therefore, I have asked (parakaleo) to see you and speak with you, since it is because of the hope of Israel that I am wearing this chain.” And they said to him, “We have received no letters from Judea about you, and none of the brothers coming here has reported or spoken any evil about you. But we desire to hear from you what your views are, for with regard to this sect we know that everywhere it is spoken against.” When they had appointed a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in greater numbers. From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets. And some were convinced by what he said, but others disbelieved. And disagreeing among themselves, they departed after Paul had made one statement: “The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your fathers through Isaiah the prophet: “ ‘Go to this people, and say, You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive. For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed; lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’ Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen.” Acts 28:20-29

he_who_has_earsThis was a watershed moment in Paul’s life. He realized that from now on it was a waste of time to preach to the Jews. Their ears were closed up. The Gentiles would listen. So he would concentrate his efforts with them.

The Jews could not consider that God had changed, that the Messiah had indeed come. They were stuck in their traditions, in the past. They held tightly to their LAW.

He that hath ears let him hearJesus said “He that has ears to hear, let him hear.”  Jesus wanted His people to see that God is Living, God is in the Present, God is not in the past.

Jesus is constantly speaking to us, through His Holy Spirit. If we live in the past, we will cover our ears, or simply ignore what He says TODAY. Several times Jesus pointed out what the Jews thought was right according to the Law and traditions, and Scripture records: “BUT I SAY UNTO YOU!”

Here are the “But I say unto you” passages:

  • But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. Matthew 5:22
  • But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. Matthew 5:28
  • But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery. Matthew 5:32
  • But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne: Matthew 5:34
  • But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. Matthew 5:39
  • But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; Matthew 5:44
  • But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. Matthew 11:22
  • But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee. Matthew 11:24
  • But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple. Matthew 12:6
  • But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. Matthew 12:36
  • But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them. Matthew 17:12
  • But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom. Matthew 26:29
  • But I say unto you, That Elias is indeed come, and they have done unto him whatsoever they listed, as it is written of him. Mark 9:13
  • But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Luke 6:27
  • But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom, than for that city. Luke 10:12

do not listenJesus wants us to realize that He is always speaking, and that we must always be listening. If we believe we already know what we should do, we are being an ELDER BROTHER. We are stopping our ears to what the Holy Spirit is saying TODAY!

As Watchman Nee said: “If I do today what I did a month ago because the Lord leads me to do it TODAY, that is life; but if I do it today simply because he led me to a month ago, that is law. The law can be a week old or centuries old, but the SPEAKING of the Holy Spirit can never be more than 24 hours old”

The Elder Brother lived in the past, and held tightly his conceptions of righteousness and acceptance. But the Father was speaking to him TODAY, and calling him to a FRESH experience of LIFE with the Father and the younger brother.

listen intentlyDo we know the freshness of today’s walk with the Father? Are our ears listening to Him, or are they stopped up?

I am listening, and am ready to go in. I want that fresh daily experience with the Father!

Father: Wake me every morning with the ears of a disciple, willing and wanting to listen and obey!

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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!

Only Knowing Jesus Has the Power to Set You Free

truth-set-you-free“you will know the truth and the truth will set you free!”

So many times it seems the church is only about doctrine. This belief versus that belief. This interpretation versus that interpretation. Pastor search committees are often focused on what the applicant believes. New church attenders want to know what the pastor and the church believes.

Doctrine is not what changes lives. Too many Christians confuse doctrine with spirituality. We confuse doctrine with truth. Jesus said the “truth” or “aletheia” will set you free. The word means reality. Facts or doctrine only confirm the reality. The reality is what changes lives.The reality is what impacts our daily lives. The doctrine simply comes after the reality impacts our life.

Jesus said “You shall know the truth” and then said “I am the truth”. Doctrine and spirituality MUST flow from our Real Relationship with our Real Savior. If we do not know intimately our Savior, doctrine does not matter. Divine things only become real to us as Jesus is real to our everyday lives. Doctrine has no power to set us free from the power of sin and death. Only knowing the TRUTH-Jesus Christ will have that impact on our lives. jesus-is-the-truth

Do you know Him? Do you seek to follow His teachings. Read Matthew 5, 6 and 7 and see the truth of Jesus Life. The life He desires you to have is an EXTRAORDINARY life, one which frees us from anger, guilt, lust, bitterness, greed, fear and envy. No doctrine can do that. Only knowing the TRUTH-Jesus, can do that.

Prayer: Holy Spirit, reveal the Truth of Jesus Christ to my heart. Open up His Word to me that I might know Him as the Reality of my everyday life. Convict me of my resistance to His will, and build His righteousness in my life.