Tag Archives: Prodigal Son

Sure are a Lot of Sinners in Here

The Elder Brother has accepted the Father’s invitation and gone in to the party celebrating his younger brother’s return. This is my imagining:

IMMEDIATELY I notice this is a REALLY FESTIVE party. You can not imagine the feast that our Father has prepared. Really HUGE! My younger brother is the center of attention. He looks totally transformed by what my Father has done for him. I’ve got to rush over to him and let him know that I love him. But just as Esau rushed to fearful Jacob, my brother notices me and runs to me! All those years I looked down at him, and now he is running to me! He used to run away from my disdainful stares.

What a reunion. It was like we were small boys again! We both were sobbing, hugging, kissing. The merriment stopped as all eyes were upon us. Everyone knew that we did not get along. They probably were in awe of the scene. We stood there, embracing and the tears began flowing freely from our eyes. Then our Father joined in, and it seemed the dam broke. Such a reunion, all because of our Father’s love.

I wonder how long we will feast and hug and cry and kiss when we get to heaven. If this is any indication, what a truly amazing place it must be. I can’t believe I almost let my foolish pride keep me from accepting my Father’s invitation. I take a moment to look at the faces around us. Many of these people I would never have given the time of day. I certainly would not have invited them into MY HOUSE! But now I am hugging them, shaking their hands, REJOICING with them! Some of these folk are barely presentable, clothed in rags, dirty, stinky, but it doesn’t matter, we are CELEBRATING because of our Father’s Love and Provisions! 

This Elder Brother thinks we will be amazed at the people we see at the Father’s Feast in Heaven. We will probably be even more amazed at who we do not see. One thing has been brought home to my heart: Jesus is a friend of sinners. Only sinners can realize how much He did for them. Elder Brother Types can let their pride and self-righteousness blind their heart to the Love of Jesus and prevent them from the “Sinners Relationship” with the Father!

Jesus Friend of SinnersYes, Jesus and the Father are FRIENDS of SINNERS! The Self Righteous, those who are working for heaven are not welcome. As an Elder Brother Type I have often let my pride and self righteousness get in the way of this amazing relationship with God. Sinners who hold on to their sins miss out too. That is why Elder Brother Types must see Jesus Christ as a Friend of Sinners and start letting it impact the way we relate to people.

Watchman Nee wrote that when he saw Jesus as a Friend of Sinners he started to see some unusual and even difficult people come to Jesus.

Pray with NeeOnce a young woman came up to him and started hitting him, saying she did not want to be “saved” by this Jesus. She was young and wanted to have a good time, and had no desire to leave her sinful ways. After she had exhausted her rantings, he said “Let’s pray”. “What on earth could I possibly pray?” she replied. Watchman Nee said: “I can’t be responsible for your prayer, but I will pray first, and then you tell the Lord Jesus all that you have been saying to me.”

“Oh, I couldn’t do that!” she exclaimed. 

“Yes, you can. Don’t you know Jesus is the Friend of Sinners?”

She was touched and indeed did pray – a very non-typical prayer – but from that hour the Lord began to work in her heart.

Within a few days Nee says she was gloriously saved.

Two Brothers reunitedI’m with my younger brother now, and I’m on the look out for some more Friends for Jesus. Anyone want to Pray? Your language will not offend him. Your clothes will not offend him. Your behavior will not offend Him. He wants you to know that He is Your Friend. He wants to talk with you. He wants to feast with you!

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Elder Brother – Sink or Swim I’m Diving In!

jesus feed the disciplesThe Elder Brother is listening to his father beg him to join the feast. Suddenly he gets it! In a true story we see a group of Elder Brothers led by Peter go on in, in spite of their miserable failures. They go to shore and feast with the Father’s Son, Jesus Christ. What happened? What truth has to get hold of Elder Brothers to cause them to DIVE ON IN like Peter? Hint: Enough introspection, its time to DIVE IN!

Jesus didn’t want His disciples to spend too much time regretting or feeling sorry for their sins. In one touching moment the Lord Jesus let his disciples know that He is not about the Past but about the Future! Jesus wanted them to know He is Lord of the Future, and wanted them to focus on that. He knew they had gone back to their fishing because they were upset and disillusioned about His death. Even though Jesus had been upfront with them, they had responded like selfish Elder Brothers and gone back to what they knew best – fishing. But even that proved empty and fruitless.

The-Disciples-Big-CatchSo Jesus spoke, and their nets were filled. They came ashore, and Jesus prepared a meal for them. Then He focused on the biggest failure of an Elder Brother-Peter. But His words were to all Elder Brothers. He said, “Do you love me more than these?Peter knew in that instance that his return to fishing meant he was putting it before his Lord. But rather than admit it in front of the others, he said “Yes, Lord, you know I love you.” Jesus said, “then feed my lambs

jesus-peter-lovest-thou-me (2)Now there was an obvious disconnect going on here. Jesus wanted to know if Peter “agape” loved him, and Peter insisted he “phileo” loved Jesus. The third time Jesus used “phileo” to meet Peter where he was at, and he pressed the point, “well, then, FOCUS ON THE FUTURE and feed my sheep!” The Father knows where all Elder Brothers are at, and He still wants us to come in! He’s not about where we have been, He is all about where we are GOING! He’s about the REJOICING!

If Elder Brothers are going to go in, they can’t dwell on the past mistakes, they must focus on a growing love for the Father and taking care of HIS SHEEP! It is not about the fish, its about the sheep!

jesus to peter Focus on the futureSo as an Elder Brother, I’m diving in and going in to the feast because I realize I love my Father, and He wants me to feed His sheep, those younger brothers (and older) that know His voice! I realize it is not about what I want, but what the Father NEEDS, and that is sons who will care for His sheep! And the only reason I am emboldened to dive in is because the Father is ALL ABOUT THE FUTURE, NOT THE PAST!

Do Elder Brothers need to dwell on their mistakes, mourn over all the younger brothers they have offended, grieve over all the hurts they have caused the Father?

No! What the Father wants is for us to turn away from our self and GO IN and REJOICE!

Paul said it best in 2 Corinthians 7:10 (NLT): “For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow.”

REJOICE I AM FORGIVENI’m going in, and I am NOT going to sulk in the corner brooding over my failures and sin. The Father wants me to REJOICE. The Father wants ME! He desires a RELATIONSHIP with ME! I’m turning away from my self effort and selfishness, my pride and arrogance, my independence, and I’m going to fall at my Father’s feet and let Him kiss my neck! I’m going in and kiss my younger brother’s neck! I’m diving in to my Father’s AMAZING POWER, GRACE AND LOVE!

Jesus wants to be Lord of our PAST, but He can do it ONLY if we allow HIM to be LORD of our FUTURE!

The only sorrow any brother should have is that which leads us away from our mistakes and plants us FIRMLY IN THE ARMS OF OUR SAVIOR! This life is all about who has our heart!

Lovest thou ME? Then forget those things which are past and press toward the Father’s Heart!

Come on, it’s time to DIVE in (watch the video on YouTube):

Elder Brother Dives InThere is a supernatural power In this might river’s flow
It can bring the dead to life
And it can fill an empty soul
And give a heart the only thing
Worth living and worth dying for, yeah
But we will never know the awesome power
Of the grace of God
Until we let ourselves get swept away
Into this holy flood
So if you’ll take my hand
We’ll close our eyes and count to three
And take the leap of faith
Come on let’s go

I’m diving in, I’m going deep in over
my head, I want to be
Caught in the rush, lost in the flow,
in over my head, I want to go
The river’s deep, the river’s wide,
the river’s water is alive
So sink or swim, I’m diving in

Father: I know I’ve made a lot of mistakes as an Elder Brother, and I now know you have forgiven me, and love me. But I’m taking your hand and I’m going in, heart first, sink or swim, I’m diving in!

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!

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 Twelve

Stuck Up Elder Brother

Sign Language for "Stuck Up"

Since I began this journey with the Prodigal God by Timothy Keller, my eyes have been opened to see the Elder Brother throughout the Bible. It is a whole new way of understanding the Gospel as well. The most amazing discovery has been the freedom that comes from admitting to God that we are an Elder Brother. There is no point in pretending. He knows our heart. He knows when we look down on others, when we think we are better than others. There is nothing wrong with being an Elder Brother. What is wrong is when we deny it, and say we are OK.

When you realize you are an Elder Brother, and are open and honest with God, and then ask Him to transform you into the True Elder Brother, the one who is not stingy or judgmental or selfish, WATCH OUT. He will start to work, and it will be painful.

Traduce a brotherOne way God will get you to let go of yourself is to let you see your self in a bad light. He will let you be TRADUCED! When you are traduced, you are “exposed to contempt or shame by means of false statements or misrepresentation.God will let you experience what it means to have someone look down at you, to judge you. Even if you have done nothing wrong, expect to be TRADUCED. It is God’s way of softening your heart to the needs of younger brothers. Elder Brothers have condemned and judged younger brothers far too long. God wants to see how you react to the wagging finger and upturned nose.

I experienced TRADUCING yesterday. Someone questioned my character by way of a misrepresentation. They had judged me yet did not have the guts to tell me to my face, or to tell me of their concerns. They had to have someone else do it. I had done nothing wrong, yet my blood started to boil, and I wanted to lash out. I especially despise cowards, people who talk about you behind your back yet will not talk to your face. As I was listening, blood boiling, the Father brought a verse to my heart, about Jesus not reviling when he was reviled, but committing himself to Him who judges righteously. (1 Peter 2:23 paraphrased). He reminded me that I had given my reputation to God several years ago, and that I must rest in Him. That is tough for an Elder Brother to do, especially when he is a Pastor. We tend to say “How Dare You!”

JesusbeatenYet Jesus is our True Elder Brother, and when He was TRADUCED, simply took it, and focused on His Father. He also prayed and forgave those who TRADUCED Him. So for the next few hours I prayed, forgave and asked the Father to enlarge my heart. The only way Elder Brothers will learn to be like Jesus is to learn to Love when we feel like hating or exacting revenge. I confessed I did not know how to love, but I knew the Father did.

Then I read what David Roper wrote in Our Daily Bread this morning:

“It was 40 years ago or more that I observed a friend of mine showing great affection for someone I considered unworthy of love. I thought my friend was being taken in, and I was afraid he would be disillusioned and saddened in the end. When I expressed my concern, he replied, “When I stand before my Lord, I hope He’ll say of me that I’ve loved too many, rather than too few.” I’ve never forgotten his words.”

The author continued expounding 1 Cor 13:7 “Love believes all things”“Love “believes” in people. It can see the potential in them. It believes that God can take the most unattractive and unworthy individual and turn that person into a masterpiece of beauty and grace. If love errs, it must err in the way of trustfulness and hopefulness.”

Love the UnlovelyThis is what Elder Brothers need to see. Instead of thinking we are the righteous ones, the ones whom the Father needs because we are so responsible, we need to see ourselves  along side the younger brother in the pigsty. We need to know what it is to be TRADUCED and looked down upon. Then we need to look at our Father and say, When our heart feels the Love of the Father even when we are at our worst, please let me never see another person as unattractive or unworthy or filthy or useless. Let me see them as YOUR MASTERPIECE! Then our heart is enlarged to LOVE THE UNLOVELY! May we ever look to the Father and pray that He will some day accuse us of loving too many, rather than too few!

Have no HeartElder brothers need to be TRADUCED so that we understand the pain and hurt of our younger brothers. When our hearts are aching then we will be sensitive to the pain of the younger brother’s heart. We will reach out to our Father for help, and only then will we be able to reach out to our younger brother. Sure, they may continue to break our heart, but as David Roper said: “It’s better to believe in someone and have your heart broken than to have no heart at all.

Lord, help us to believe in people
And all that in them You can do,
So we can say we’ve loved too many,
Rather than too few. —Sper

The Father looks beyond what the brothers are to what they can become.

Father: Soften and enlarge my heart to love my younger brothers the way my True Elder Brother loves me. Empower me to love the unlovely. May I never look down on anyone. May I see others as You see them!

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 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!