Never forget…

Photo by Glitchy Artist
 
This example of King Asa is a stern warning to us today about trusting in the Lord and not the world.   Asa had enjoyed great success as King of Judah because of near complete reliance on God.  He followed the commands of God, cut down asherah poles, turned his people away from following idols, and had great military victories.  He overcame a million man invading army relying on God – “And Asa cried to the Lord his God, “O Lord, there is none like you to help, between the mighty and the weak. Help us, O Lord our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this multitude. O Lord, you are our God; let not man prevail against you.””2 Chronicles‬ ‭14:11‬ ‭ESV‬‬. He even deposed his own mother in the name of the Lord – “Even Maacah, his mother, King Asa removed from being queen mother because she had made a detestable image for Asherah. Asa cut down her image, crushed it, and burned it at the brook Kidron.”‭‭2 Chronicles‬ ‭15:16‬ ‭ESV
But even after all this success Asa still would falter in his faith, and it cost him.  
In the thirty-sixth year of the reign of Asa, Baasha king of Israel went up against Judah and built Ramah, that he might permit no one to go out or come in to Asa king of Judah. Then Asa took silver and gold from the treasures of the house of the Lord and the king’s house and sent them to Ben-hadad king of Syria, who lived in Damascus, saying, “There is a covenant between me and you, as there was between my father and your father. Behold, I am sending to you silver and gold. Go, break your covenant with Baasha king of Israel, that he may withdraw from me.  Instead of relying on God, Asa fell into pride and instead chose to rely on his wealth and worldly connections to save himself from an impending attack.  In other words, he did it his way, instead of Gods way.  After having enjoyed peace and success in relying on God, he forgot the basis of his success and relied instead on the fruits of his past success instead the God who had delivered him so well to this point.  I think those of us in recovery are always one step from from falling into this trap.  We get good recovery time under our belts, and we forget how we got there.  We forget where we came from, and revert back to the old self reliance that got us into recovery to begin with. 
At that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah and said to him, “Because you relied on the king of Syria, and did not rely on the Lord your God, the army of the king of Syria has escaped you. Were not the Ethiopians and the Libyans a huge army with very many chariots and horsemen? Yet because you relied on the Lord, he gave them into your hand. For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him. You have done foolishly in this, for from now on you will have wars.  Asa actually had success in the battle he undertook.  However, the very army he allied himself with in battle is the same army that the prophet announces will be his downfall.  And because Asa did not like the report he got, he put the prophet in prison and lashed out at some his citizens as well.  Isn’t that just like an addict??  We are all fine and happy as long as things go our way, and people tell us what we want to hear.  But don’t let trouble come!!  Don’t let someone not agree with us, or something not go our way!!  We revert quick in these situations!  Us against the world!!  We lash out, it’s everybody’s fault but ours!
 In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa was diseased in his feet, and his disease became severe. Yet even in his disease he did not seek the Lord, but sought help from physicians. And Asa slept with his fathers, dying in the forty-first year of his reign.  Once we’ve turned away from relying on God to take care of us, it can be very hard correct ourselves and realign with God.  Asa is still stuck in his own pride and anger, and can’t humble himself to submit to God even in a life threatening illness.  He dies from this illness, still separated from God.  What a shame to be so successful for so long, only to lose that connection late in life.  This is why the 10th, 11th and 12th steps are so important to our recoveries.  We must stay plugged into his power.  It’s the power test saved us. It’s the power we need in order to carry out the will he has for us.  It’s the power we will need to stay sober until the day we die.  


“In the thirty-sixth year of the reign of Asa, Baasha king of Israel went up against Judah and built Ramah, that he might permit no one to go out or come in to Asa king of Judah. Then Asa took silver and gold from the treasures of the house of the Lord and the king’s house and sent them to Ben-hadad king of Syria, who lived in Damascus, saying, “There is a covenant between me and you, as there was between my father and your father. Behold, I am sending to you silver and gold. Go, break your covenant with Baasha king of Israel, that he may withdraw from me.” And Ben-hadad listened to King Asa and sent the commanders of his armies against the cities of Israel, and they conquered Ijon, Dan, Abel-maim, and all the store cities of Naphtali. And when Baasha heard of it, he stopped building Ramah and let his work cease. Then King Asa took all Judah, and they carried away the stones of Ramah and its timber, with which Baasha had been building, and with them he built Geba and Mizpah. At that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah and said to him, “Because you relied on the king of Syria, and did not rely on the Lord your God, the army of the king of Syria has escaped you. Were not the Ethiopians and the Libyans a huge army with very many chariots and horsemen? Yet because you relied on the Lord, he gave them into your hand. For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him. You have done foolishly in this, for from now on you will have wars.” Then Asa was angry with the seer and put him in the stocks in prison, for he was in a rage with him because of this. And Asa inflicted cruelties upon some of the people at the same time. The acts of Asa, from first to last, are written in the Book of the Kings of Judah and Israel. In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa was diseased in his feet, and his disease became severe. Yet even in his disease he did not seek the Lord, but sought help from physicians. And Asa slept with his fathers, dying in the forty-first year of his reign. They buried him in the tomb that he had cut for himself in the city of David. They laid him on a bier that had been filled with various kinds of spices prepared by the perfumer’s art, and they made a very great fire in his honor.”
‭‭2 Chronicles‬ ‭16:1-14‬ ‭ESV‬‬

 

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Party in Heaven!!

 

 
 
The parable of the lost sheep, as recorded by Luke.  This story has  a certain subtlety about it, as does much of Jesus’ teaching.
What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it?   He’s not just saying that the one lost sheep is precious to him.  He is saying that he will act to find it.  The Good Shepherd will go after his lost sheep, even at the risk of losing some of the flock that is content in following Him.  Or, for us, he will go after that one lost sinner, not content to lose even one.
And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’   Sounds like there’s going to be a party in heaven!!  Just like the prodigal son who was spiritually dead, when that one lost sinner is found it is time to kill the fattened calf, bring out the best wine, find the best musicians, and party down!!  And notice – unlike the prodigal son, who first made his own decision to come home before the father ran out to meet him, the Shepherd went looking for this lost sheep, this lost sinner.  He found him, rescued him, and carried him home on his own back!!   This is not just being there to love us when we repent and come to him.   This is actively loving and seeking the lost.  I think this powerfully speaks to the entirely of the birth, life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord, the Son of Man, of whom the Father testified the He was well pleased!!   He came for us, the human race, who are lost in our sinful ways.  He came for us, the lost sinners, who eat to this day of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, along with our earthly mother and father Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.  He did not just stay in heaven and let his lost sheep wander aimlessly on earth to our own death and demise.  He left His home in heaven with the Father to walk on earth with us, to make a New Covenant of Grace and Mercy with His lost sheep who were not capable of living up to the old covenant of the law.   He came seeking us, so that we may seek Him.  Indeed – “We love because he first loved us.”‭‭1 John‬ ‭4:19‬ ‭ESV‬
Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.  This one I need to be careful with.  I am certainly one sinner who repented.  I mean, I’m one sinner who must repent every day.  So why do I bring more joy than ninety-nine righteous people who have always done the right thing and need no repentance?   I can only think that it is because those ninety nine also need repentance, but live under the lie that they are without sin.  If we are not willing to humble ourselves and accept that we can not live up to what we have been freely given, we will never be able to fully submit to the lordship of Jesus Christ.  Those who have accepted their sinful nature, who have hit that bottom, who have gone through that death with Christ Jesus, it is those who experience that resurrection with Jesus!!   There is no resurrection without the crucifixion!!  Friday must always come before Monday!  We can’t fully experience the celebration of Jesus until we’ve  fully experienced the execution of Jesus!!   Without that execution, We would have no celebration!

“So he told them this parable: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”
‭‭Luke‬ ‭15:3-7‬ ‭ESV‬‬
http://bible.com/59/luk.15.3-7.esv
John Lewis
 
 

Dry Bones




This is quite a vision of the resurrection of the dead!!  The hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones.   This is how we know it is a vision and not reality – he was brought out into the valley “in the spirit.”   
And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry. And he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord God, you know.”  Bones everywhere!!  Ezekiel is nothing if not descriptive in in prophesies.  But he does get it right for sure – God is asking him if the bones can live, he just reflects it back to God.  By his power the bones certainly can not live.  But as we know, with God all things are possible!!

 

Then he said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the Lord.”   Again, the power of God on display!!  Only God has the power to bring dry, dead bones back to life.  What God is really using this to foreshadow, beyond the resurrection of the dead, is the restoration of Israel and the Jewish nation.  They had long before fallen away from God, and were scattered throughout their world.
So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I prophesied, there was a sound, and behold, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. And I looked, and behold, there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them. But there was no breath in them.  Like is said, Ezekiel is nothing if not descriptive.  God is calling his people Israel back together.  Their “body” will begin a re-formation. They will begin to look like a nation again, the people of God receiving the mercy of God.  But when they first begin to come back together, there will be no breath in them.  The prophet is seeing that while they will be re-formed physically, and begin to reconstitute their nation, they will not have turned immediately back to God,  though on the outside all will look good, underneath, spiritually, they will not have come back to God in their hearts.
Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.” So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.   “Come from the four winds” – Israel was scattered, God calling them back together.  Ezekiel followed the commands of the Lord, and the body has come back to life!  The power of only God!!
Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off.’   On their own power, the people of Israel can not resurrect their once proud nation.  On their own, they have no hope.  Their only hope is in the Lord.
Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the Lord.””  A promise of God to resurrect the nation of Israel, to call his people back and give them their land again.  Apart from God, Israel is done.  They are scattered among many other nation, beaten and destroyed.  With God, there is hope of resurrecting their once great nation.   Israel needed a resurrection.  Sometimes we need a resurrection, in our recoveries, in our relationships, in our lives.  We know that doing things on our own only leaves us in the wilderness, hopeless and wandering.  When we are ready to resurrect our hopes and dreams, our very life, we know where to find the  power Ezekiel saw in this vision.  The power to overcome death.  It’s the power we can only find the God, embodied in His son Jesus Christ!!
 

 

“The hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones. And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry. And he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord God, you know.” Then he said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the Lord.” So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I prophesied, there was a sound, and behold, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. And I looked, and behold, there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them. But there was no breath in them. Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.” So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army. Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off.’ Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the Lord.””
‭‭Ezekiel‬ ‭37:1-14‬ ‭ESV‬‬
http://bible.com/59/ezk.37.1-14.esv

 
 
 
 
 

 

John Lewis

The Law and The Prophets

I thought this would be short and sweet, but I was wrong!!  There is so much said in this short paragraph from Jesus.   “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”  From his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is letting his followers, as well as all listening, know that he has not come to take 2000 years of prior revelation from God and dismiss it.  He did not come to overturn their bibles, he came to bring it all to life, to be God in the flesh.  As it says, to fulfill the principles of the Old Testament, not overturn them.  They had a foundation which they lived by, Jesus was not here to wipe that away.
“For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.”  Again, reassuring those listening that He believes in the bibles they’ve lived their lives by.  Their bible was  His bible.  It was his guide.  The prophecies he came to fulfill were in that bible.
“Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”  Jesus again is criticizing the religious teachers of his time.  Those Pharisees were all about the outward expressions of following the laws laid out by Moses, but their outward showing of religiousness was not matched by a heart for loving his people.  They did not love God with all their hearts, and certainly did not love their neighbors as themselves.  They have no problem with the blind being blind or crippled being crippled, but they do have a problem with showing grace and mercy to those suffering from afflictions on their precious sabbath – an outward representation of how righteous they present themselves as being.  Instead of grace and mercy, they live by a harsh interpretation here on earth of the will of God.  They set themselves as Judge instead of servant,  True righteousness comes from showing grace and mercy, from showing kindness and loving God through loving your neighbor.  How else to you love God?  You love God by loving people.  Loving Gods people is not secondary to outward shows of obedience.  We don’t stand by day after day, following our religious protocols and ceremonies, putting on a show of living for God, and let His people stay in suffering when we can do something about it.  As usual, this Jesus guy is tough!!
“For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”   The scribes and Pharisees righteousness was all outward.  When we see people with an outward religion, but no heart for helping others and loving God’s children, that is what Jesus is talking about here.  This is what James is talking about when he says – So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” James‬ ‭2:17‬ ‭ESV‬‬.  So as always, we must check ourselves and ask the same question – Am I just putting on a show??  Or am I truly loving God and loving his people?  All of his people??   Christianity really is Not for Punks!
 

““Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭5:17-20‬ ‭ESV‬‬

 

 

John Lewis

All We Have

 


A prayer of praise by David near the end of his life, as he is passing the kingship to Solomon and finalizing the offerings to be used in building the great temple in Jerusalem.  “But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you. For we are strangers before you and sojourners, as all our fathers were. Our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no abiding. O Lord our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building you a house for your holy name comes from your hand and is all your own.”  David simply acknowledging that the Lord made it all, gave it all, and will continue to provide it all.  We are only here on God’s green earth for short time, and we will have nothing while we are here that is not a gift from him.  

O Lord our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building you a house for your holy name comes from your hand and is all your own. I know, my God, that you test the heart and have pleasure in uprightness. In the uprightness of my heart I have freely offered all these things, and now I have seen your people, who are present here, offering freely and joyously to you.”  Houses, cars, electronic, TVs, all those things we fall into worshipping over God, all those things we acquire over our lifetimes while saying we don’t have anything left to give back to God, yes all of these things are made with materials provided by him, with knowledge illuminated from him, with skills gifted by Him.  Maybe it would be appropriate to pray passionately in recognition that it all came from Him, that nothing would be without Him making it first, and that we can give nothing back to Him that He did not give us in the first place!!

BTW – the gold and silver donated by David and the people of Israel for the construction of the temple, if we read correctly exactly what written was given, totals up to $4.5 Billion…quite an offering!!



“Therefore David blessed the Lord in the presence of all the assembly. And David said: “Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of Israel our father, forever and ever. Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name. “But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you. For we are strangers before you and sojourners, as all our fathers were. Our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no abiding. O Lord our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building you a house for your holy name comes from your hand and is all your own. I know, my God, that you test the heart and have pleasure in uprightness. In the uprightness of my heart I have freely offered all these things, and now I have seen your people, who are present here, offering freely and joyously to you. O Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, our fathers, keep forever such purposes and thoughts in the hearts of your people, and direct their hearts toward you. Grant to Solomon my son a whole heart that he may keep your commandments, your testimonies, and your statutes, performing all, and that he may build the palace for which I have made provision.” Then David said to all the assembly, “Bless the Lord your God.” And all the assembly blessed the Lord, the God of their fathers, and bowed their heads and paid homage to the Lord and to the king. And they offered sacrifices to the Lord, and on the next day offered burnt offerings to the Lord, 1,000 bulls, 1,000 rams, and 1,000 lambs, with their drink offerings, and sacrifices in abundance for all Israel. And they ate and drank before the Lord on that day with great gladness. And they made Solomon the son of David king the second time, and they anointed him as prince for the Lord, and Zadok as priest.”

‭‭1 Chronicles‬ ‭29:10-22‬ ‭ESV‬‬


John Lewis

Those One Hour Workers

 


This is a parable that leaves many of us scratching our heads and aggravated, especially we “rugged Americans.”  We (I) read this and get defensive and antsy because we (I) immediately   identify with the laborers who started at 6 am.  We work hard for our money, but we have our own expectation of a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work. 

After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard.”  So these guys start early, and agree to the value of their days wage.  Here it is one denarius, maybe today it might be $150??!!  

And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and to them he said, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went. Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing. And he said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’”   So, this vineyard owner is just all about putting people to work!!   So, clearly we have a vineyard owner who is interested in getting people to work!!  Full day, partial day, whatever!!  He is putting people to work!!  

And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.’ And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius.”   How would your local labor union deal with this guy??  Imagine those laborers who started at 6 am, the twelve hour workers.  They must have really thought they were going to clean up when they saw all these short timers getting a days wage!!  If I had been one of them, I’d have been expecting at least a double share, at least $300!!  After all, I’d been there all day, it’s only fair!!  Right??!!  

And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’   There I am!!  It REALLY upsets us to read this and hear about those bums showing up at 5 o’clock, working for an hour, and taking the same paycheck home as we do!!  But look even closer – “you have made them equal to us!”  There’s the real rub!!  Aren’t we BETTER than they are?  We’ve been here all along!  We get up earlier, work longer hours, and get more done!!   What would you do without us?  We DEMAND OUR RIGHTS!!

“But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ So the last will be first, and the first last.””   Jesus Christ was, and IS, so completely counter culture.  In a world where we are all about counting what’s ours, demanding our rights, Jesus loves to turn the world upside down.  We have a right to better pay, a nicer house, a cooler car. Jesus just keeps giving mercy to all.  Just imagine if, 12 hour worker or not, we all got what we have coming to us?  We are all sinners….and  “the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans‬ ‭6:23‬ ‭ESV‬‬   All of a sudden, maybe we don’t want what we have coming!!  Maybe we’re a little more agreeable to grace and mercy, as long as WE are receiving it (of course).

Now let’s really get counter cultural.  What if….we are not the twelve hour worker after all?  What if we’re “that guy” – the one sitting at Home Depot doing nothing all day until someone picks him up near the end of the workday to put in a couple of hours in the fields somewhere.  What if we’re “that guy” – who gets a full days wage for far less than a full days work??   What if I tell you that we are ALL “that guy”  to some extent?  Peter is the disciple who asked Jesus – Then Peter said in reply, “See, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?”” Matthew‬ ‭19:27‬ ‭ESV‬‬.   This parable is part of the extended response given by Jesus to Peter’s question.  Peter is basically asking – “What’s in it for us?”  Peter is one of the 12 hour workers here.  He was there from the beginning.  Of maybe he isn’t…weren’t Moses and all the prophets, even the everyday Jews of history to this point, weren’t they all there before even Simon Peter?  Maybe Peter is a 9 hour worker in this story.  One thing I know, most of those reading this, no matter who you are, is at best maybe a 3 hour worker??  I KNOW that I personally am nothing more than a one hour worker.  Even when I could, should, or would have been following Jesus, I wasn’t.  I lived for myself my way for 42 years.  It was only after hitting a bottom that embarrassed my wife and family, a bottom that nearly cost me my family and could gave cost my job, did I go into recovery, meet Christ, accept the offer given, and get to work!!  And – I already know that I’m getting a full days wage.  I have a purpose for living, my sins are forgiven, and I have a home waiting in heaven.  In other words – I’M GETTIN’ PAID THE WHOLE $150!!  Realizing I’m only a one hour worker in this story changes my perception of everything.  This story certainly doesn’t raise my blood pressure any more.  Hopefully, it lowers yours a bit too!!  


““For the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and to them he said, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went. Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing. And he said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’ And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.’ And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius. And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ So the last will be first, and the first last.””
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭20:1-16‬ ‭ESV‬‬
John Lewis

Writing is mine, theme borrowed from Pastor Brian Zahnd at Word of Life Ministry

Fat Cows



When we read some of the Old Testament prophets, it’s not too hard to figure out why they were always so unpopular.  Amos here goes right after the powers that be of his time – “Hear this word, you cows of Bashan, who are on the mountain of Samaria, who oppress the poor, who crush the needy, who say to your husbands, ‘Bring, that we may drink!’”  Nothing tactful about that one, is there!!  Not just insulting the ruling class of the time, but making it personal, referring to the wives of the most powerful men, the 1% of their day, as “fat cows!”  This reminds me of James’ warning against ill-gotten gain, because these women had come into their wealth in a bad manner, oppressing the poor and crushing the needy.  And they are outrageous in their wealth, demanding that they be served their food and wine, sitting adding no value to the world just soaking it up.  I just say this as a contrast to Jesus, who declared – “For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves.” Luke 22:27 ESV  

 “The Lord God has sworn by his holiness that, behold, the days are coming upon you, when they shall take you away with hooks, even the last of you with fishhooks. And you shall go out through the breaches, each one straight ahead; and you shall be cast out into Harmon.”  Interesting note here – within ten years, enemies would overtake this area and lead all the wealthiest people of Judea into captivity.  So these “fat cows” very soon after this would live the fulfillment of the prophecy given through Amos.  Seems like a good thing to me that we have not seen the fulfillment of prophesies that might apply to us without the chance to change or ways…

“Come to Bethel, and transgress; to Gilgal, and multiply transgression; bring your sacrifices every morning, your tithes every three days; offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving of that which is leavened, and proclaim freewill offerings, publish them; for so you love to do, O people of Israel!” declares the Lord God.”  – quite the sarcasm from a prophet of God!! This, to me, sounds like so much of modern Christianity. we come every Sunday.  We give done offering out of our own personal overflow to claim our obedience.  We leave church on Sunday, and for about 6 days 22 hours we continue to multiply our transgressions, doing as we please, until we show up the next Sunday to make sure we show the world how Godly we are.  Again, good thing for us the fulfillment of prophesy has not been so immediate.


““Hear this word, you cows of Bashan, who are on the mountain of Samaria, who oppress the poor, who crush the needy, who say to your husbands, ‘Bring, that we may drink!’ The Lord God has sworn by his holiness that, behold, the days are coming upon you, when they shall take you away with hooks, even the last of you with fishhooks. And you shall go out through the breaches, each one straight ahead; and you shall be cast out into Harmon,” declares the Lord. “Come to Bethel, and transgress; to Gilgal, and multiply transgression; bring your sacrifices every morning, your tithes every three days; offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving of that which is leavened, and proclaim freewill offerings, publish them; for so you love to do, O people of Israel!” declares the Lord God.”

‭‭Amos‬ ‭4:1-5‬ ‭ESV‬‬