Rev Dr Edgar Mayer; Living Grace Toowoomba Church

Sermon Series: Supernatural Ways Of Royalty – 01 – Everything I Have; Date: 21 August 2011

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Everything I Have

 

(In this sermon I use the words “son” and “sonship” in a generic sense so that they apply to both men and women.)

 

Are you poor? As a Christian, do you have God by your side but never seem to have enough of anything? Are you experiencing lack – are you anxious about making ends meet and taking your place at work and home – and in the church? Are you unhappy?

Jesus told a story of a father with two sons. The younger son had everything and he knew it but the older son had exactly the same kind of wealth but knew nothing of it. This morning – I am suggesting that we pay attention to the older son and learn from his mistakes.

This is Jesus’ story – Luke 15:1-3,11-32:

 

“Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, ‘This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.’ Then Jesus told them this parable ...

Jesus continued: ‘There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, Father, give me my share of the estate. So he divided his property between them. Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

When he came to his senses, he said, How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants. So he got up and went to his father.

But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. The son said to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. But the father said to his servants, Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found. So they began to celebrate.

Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. Your brother has come, he replied, and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.

The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!

 My son, the father said, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.

 

The younger son had everything – he was the heir of his father who was rich – and he cashed his inheritance. If he lacked anything, it was a sense of shame because he asked his father to pay out his share of the estate before his father was even dead. Yet, he got the money and set out to enjoy the abundance of what money can buy. According to Jesus – “in a distant country, he squandered his wealth in wild living”. The older son remained at home but – so it seems – he was consumed by envy. While he worked and worked on the farm and knew no entertainment – not even a weekend BBQ with his friends – he imagined that his brother was living it up with wild parties and prostitutes.

Yet, both sons misunderstood true wealth. They wanted the same. The only difference was that the younger son acted on his desires while the older son did not dare to do the same but envied him. He was having secret day-dreams of his brother’s life and it made him bitter and full of regret. (And this can be such a Christian problem where we envy the world for its sins.) The only question iswhy”. Who ever got what they wanted from a prostitute? Contrary to all the music videos and rapper coolness, the gyrating bodies of sex workers do not satisfy any man and are not an expression of richness but poverty.

What any man and any woman is craving for – more than anything – is intimacy. How can you undress and be naked with a stranger – how can you be that vulnerable – and not expect to be hurt by the transaction that is based on money – a poor substitute for love. How can anyone do what people do when they make love and not be hurt by the rejection which is part of prostitution? (No wonder you have to harden yourself and call it “f...ing” or “s...ing” because reality is:) She wants your money, not you. (He pays for your body, not you.)

We are made for more. When God made man in the beginning, he placed him in a perfect garden but soon realized – Genesis 2:18: “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.Then, he created the first woman and the man was no longer lonely. The woman touched him deep inside so that he said – Genesis 2:23: “This now is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.” As God confirmed, they were connecting on such deep and intimate levels that they were no longer two but one – Genesis 2:24: “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.

It is also interesting to consider when they were first making love. Before they fell into sin – in God’s perfect garden – they enjoyed such permanent closeness that there did not seem to be a need for any retreat to the bedroom (much like heaven). The glory of God was all around them. However, when they disobeyed God, they experienced that sin not only separated them from God but also each other. They blamed each other and – for the first time – felt ashamed naked before each other.

 

Genesis 3:12: “The man said, ‘The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.’”

 

Genesis 2:25: “Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.” Genesis 3:6-7: “When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.” Genesis 3:10-11: “He answered, ‘I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.’ And he said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?’” Genesis 3:21: “The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.”

 

Could it be that the man and woman – Adam and Eve – first sought physical intimacy with each other to recapture something that they had lost in the perfect garden? They were longing to regain the same oneness of living in permanent perfection – surrounded by the glory of God – and (to an extent) they succeeded because the Bible confirmed that the proper word formaking lovewasto know” – Genesis 4:1: “Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain ... ” There is something deep going on inknowingeach other in lovemaking. We may not always engage in the right way but even in prostitution the rich design of God cannot be totally denied – 1 Corinthians 6:16: “Do you not know that the person who joins himself to a prostitute becomes one person with her? For it is said, ‘The two will become one flesh.’”

 

[It is also noteworthy that out of their intimacy the first man and woman – without deliberate planning or effort – reproduced themselves in children. Cf. John 13:35; 17:23. In God’s kingdom, love is fruitful.]

 

[Those that have no spouse need not despair because – according to the Bible – intimacy is also possible among friends and the brothers and sisters of the church – 1 Samuel 18:1: “And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.”]

 

Just a reminder – the point of this excursion is that the two sons of Jesus’ story knew nothing about true riches and wealth. The younger son spent his money on wild living and the older son was consumed by envy but both – in comparison to what God can give – were poor. Are you poor – in similar ways? Which son are you? What do you think is going to make you rich?

The younger son thought that he hit the jackpot with his inheritance but he experienced the logical conclusion of his life-style – ending up shipwrecked. Then – in Jesus’ words – hecame to his senses”. Money cannot buy friendships and money cannot buy a loving father whom he mistreated and abandoned. There was a famine in the land – the distant country of his choosing – and he was herding pigs – starving and longing to eat their food. He decided to come home and prepared this speech for his dad:

 

(How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him:) “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.”

 

Yet, his dad saw him for a distance and made his homecoming a memorable and amazing affair:

 

But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. The son said to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. But the father said to his servants, Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found. So they began to celebrate.

 

The father was outrageous in his loving welcome, the lavish demonstrations of forgiveness and the son’s restoration to an heir of his father’s property. The son received the best robe, the best party with the best cut of meat (the fattened calf) and the best piece of jewellery – the ring that bore the seal of his father’s estate. He was hugged and kissed – despite the dirt and smell of the piggery on the son.

The father paid no attention to the son’s apology. He couldn’t because he was simply bursting with joy: “This son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.There was no guilt-trip – no smart comments like: “I told you so.” The father only cared about having his son back and he did not mind sacrificing everything for his return – for instance, his wild run (as an old man) toward the homecoming son that had disgraced him. He did not care about the opinions of others. He was not ashamed of his joy. His son was coming home.

This morning – you can experience the very same homecoming because the father of Jesus’ story is no other than your Father in heaven – God himself. (The father in Jesus’ story could also stand for Jesus himself but Jesus also represents the Father to us. Cf. John 10:30; 14:9-11.) And he is also lavish in demonstrating forgiveness and your restoration as his son whom he has made in his very own image. Just consider this one Bible question –Romans 8:32: “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” Look at Jesus (on the cross) who died for you and paid the price for all of your sins. This is the Father running towards you, hugging you and kissing you. This is the Father giving you the best robe, the best party with the best cut of meat and the best piece of jewellery – the ring that makes you an heir of your Father’s kingdom.

 

Galatians 4:4-7: “But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, ... to redeem [us so] ... that we might receive the full rights of sons. Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father.’ So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.”

 

God had made us in his image but then we were lost – as dead to him in sin – so that restitution comes to us through adoption by which we become sons again – with full rights – heirs to Father God. We receive the Spirit of God into our hearts so that the cry of sonship becomes natural to us – calling out to God: “Abba, Father.” This is what is making us rich because

 

Ephesians 1:3: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.”

 

John 16:23-24: “ ... I tell you the truth, you will ask the Father directly, and he will grant your request because you use my name. You haven’t done this before. Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy.”

 

However, I am coming back to Jesus’ story of the two sons and their father. You may think that for you no homecoming party is necessary because you have already come home or you have never left home – you have never strayed from your faith in God. As far as you are concerned, you are a Christian and God is your Father. Only – do you feel rich? Do you feel the fabric of God’s best robe on your shoulders? Does he provide for you and fill your tank with love? What kind of experiences do you have with God?

The older son in Jesus’ story was home but home felt like a prison to him – (as church life can feel like a prison to you) – and it was because he locked himself out – removed himself – from the wealth of his dad. What happened?

He created a prison for himself with powerful words – damaging judgements and resolutions. This is what he said to himself:

 

Judgement: “Our father loves my younger brother, not me. Why else would he only pay out the inheritance to him and not me? After all, I am the eldest.”

 

Judgement: “I am worthless. My father will never give me anything. He takes no notice of me.”

 

Resolution: “I will work hard to please my father but he will never give me credit for anything.”

 

Resolution: “I will be in control and prove that I am more righteous than my dad and brother.”

 

Resolution: “I will never trust my dad again.”

 

With these judgements and resolutions, the older brother turned his home into a prison and the consequences were devastating. None of the father’s wealth was there for him to enjoy and it was his own fault. Here Jesus’ story is quite tragic. Listen again – Luke 15:25-32:

 

Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. Your brother has come, he replied, and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.

The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!

 My son, the father said, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.

 

(1) The older son – as the heir of the estate – seemed to work harder and longer than anyone else (slaving and never disobeying) – servants included – because he no longer expected anything good from his dad, was on a mission to prove him wrong and – at the same time – strove to earn his approval. (2) He was carrying bitterness and resentment which finally boiled over into red-hot anger over the father’s repeated goodness to his younger brother. (3) He failed to receive even a young goat for a BBQ with his friends and we will pick up on this point later. (4) He never ruled as the heir of the estate. He acted out the role of the lowest slave rather than the son of the father.

The older brother’s judgements and resolutions were his undoing – and they may be yours – because the words we speak – and the words we hold in our hearts – create and shape our future. This is how God made the world and this is our human privilege – whether we believe in God or not. (The design only becomes even more powerful as we operate in alignment with God’s Spirit):

 

1) As God has worked creation by the words of his mouth, so we – who are made in his image – have the same mandate of creating the future with our words.

 

Genesis 1:1-25: “ … And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light … ” 2 Peter 3:5: “ … by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed … ” Hebrews 1:3: “ … sustaining all things by his powerful word …” John 6:63: “ … The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.”

 

Genesis 2:19-20: “Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals ... ”

 

Matthew 16:19: “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” John 20:22-23: “And with that he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.’”[1]

 

 

2) We receive according to our faith expectation.

 

Matthew 9:29: “According to your faith let it be done to you.”

 

Mark 9:23: “Everything is possible for one who believes.”

 

The older son expected and received nothing but hard work, no break and not even a young goat.

 

 

3) We reap what we sow.

 

Deuteronomy 29:18: “Make sure there is no man or woman, clan or tribe among you today whose heart turns away from the LORD our God to go and worship the gods of those nations; make sure there is no root among you that produces such bitter poison.”

 

Hebrews 12:15: “See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”

 

Galatians 6:7: “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.”

 

The older son sowed bitterness and resentment and reaped an outburst of anger – open hostility towards his dad – and stubborn refusal to join the homecoming party for his younger brother.

 

 

4) Wherever we judge and not honour, we receive according to our judgement.

 

Ephesians 6:2-3: “‘Honour your father and mother’ – which is the first commandment with a promise – ‘so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.’”

 

1 Samuel 2:30: “ ... Those who honour me I will honour, but those who despise me will be disdained.”

 

Matthew 13:57-58: “And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is not without honour except in his own town and in his own home.’ And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.”

 

Matthew 7:1-2: “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” See also Mark 11:25-26.

 

The older brother judged his dad for (supposedly) treating him like a second-rate person and dishonoured him by refusing to join the party. Thus, he lived like a slave rather than a son.

 

[The negative judgements, faith expectations and resolutions can have a cursing effect on others because they exert (spiritual) pressure on others to act according to the person’s judgements and resolutions. Examples:

 

“My parents received inheritances and [other money] ... so that for periods of my life we were quite well off. But they had a genius for losing money! In the day before theft insurance, they opened a jewelry store, and were robbed three times. They started a fine gift and furniture store in Joplin – just before Joplin went into a financial depression. And so it went, again and again. Little blame could justly be attached, but that didn't keep my sinful heart from doing it. My picture of life and God were formed unconsciously in bitterness. God would go bankrupt as far as I was concerned. I would not be consistently provided for ... I would never have enough, and would have to work extra hard all my life only to lose anyway.

Neither God nor life could go against the deep levels of my will. Life went that way. Always there was some emergency just when it looked like clear sailing. Three congregations, whom I pastored, dutifully starved us. My psychological projections streamed messages to trustees' boards, but though that helped to turn away salary increases, the reaping of judgement was what pushed them not to be as expansive as they would have been. [I judged my parents and God for not providing for me and so I reaped what I sowed: Indeed there were never enough provisions.] Not until the Lord revealed the depth of my sin did things change” (John & Paula Sandford: Restoring The Christian Family, New Jersey 1979).

 

“A man whose father had been severely critical of him came for counsel. No task accomplished met an embrace or affirmation from his dad, but only attacks. This man could never hold a job. Bosses always reviled him and made life so miserable that no matter how hard he tried, in the end he would have to resign or be fired. Recently he had taken a new job and performed well. The boss thought, ‘Sam’s been doing well. I’ll go in and sit down and have a chat and compliment him.’ Within five minutes the boss found himself ripping Sam up one side and down the other. The boss left shaking his head, wondering what had happened. ‘I didn't want to do that at all; what made me do it?’ Sam's attitude, his remarks, his expectancy to be criticized didn’t help at all, of course, but these alone could not be enough to so divert and pull off-balance the other’s mind and heart. Sam was continuing to reap the bitter judgements of his heart [which he made against his critical father all those years ago]” (John & Paula Sandford: Restoring The Christian Family, New Jersey 1979).]

 

 

5) We become what we judge.

 

Romans 2:1: “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.”

 

Friedrich Nietzsche: “Be careful in choosing your enemies because you will become like them.”

 

The older brother judged his father to be mean towards him but he became mean himself towards his generous father and towards his brother who had been lost and dead to the family.

 

 

6) Negative judgements and resolutions work ever increasing devastation.

 

Hosea 8:7: “They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind ... ”

 

The older brother took offense at his father’s goodness towards the younger son. He began by nursing a grudge and reaped an open split in their relationship.

 

Are you by any chance the older son? In Jesus’ story, the older son had a perfect dad and so have you in God but this did not stop him from judging him and nursing harmful resolutions. How are you feeling towards God – your Father in heaven? Are you a Christian – a child of God – but never seem to get anything?

Maybe your problem is not just with God but other family members. Imagine that the older brother remained as he was – resentful and distant from the father – and then imagine that he himself had a son. Would this son – the grand-son – ever learn to love the grand-father or would he grow up damaged and corrupted in his views by his dad – the older brother? Has there been a person in your life – maybe your own dad – that harmed your relationship with Father God?

Listen to the following testimony – Craig Hill: The Ancient Paths, Littleton: Family Foundations Publishing 1992, p14-21:

 

Joe was a well dressed, successful businessman in his late thirties when I first met him. He had come to a weekend “From Curse To Blessing” seminar. As we moved into the small-group ministry time, Joe began to share sheepishly, about the tremendous problem that anger had caused him in his life. “Anger causes me to embarrass myself, and then I feel guilty,” he explained. “One time a couple of months ago I was driving my car out of a shopping mall parking lot into a stream of traffic. I thought that I had enough space to exit the parking lot and enter the traffic flow on the street. However, as I began to move my car forward, I stopped my car and decided to wait for a larger space in traffic. The man in the car behind me was apparently surprised and gave me a little toot on his horn.”

Joe went on to describe, “I was so infuriated that he would honk at me, I slammed the gear shift into ‘park,’ and jumped out of my car, almost ripping the door off the hinges on the way. I stormed back to the car following me, grabbed the shirt of the startled driver and jerked his face up through the open window. I then let loose a tirade of choice obscenities and profanity as I let him know what I thought of him. All the time while screaming at the other driver, it was all I could do to restrain myself from physically punching him.”

“When I had exhausted my vocabulary of four-letter words and felt that the other man sufficiently understood how I felt about his honking, I returned to my car. As I sank back down into the driver’s seat, tremendous guilt and shame began to overwhelm me. I almost felt as if it had been someone else shouting those words. ‘Who was that crazy, raging maniac?’ I thought to myself. ‘What a wonderful testimony of the love of Christ I presented to that man following me!’ Then I remembered the bumper sticker that my wife had recently attached to the back bumper of both our cars, ‘Honk if you love Jesus.’ I just sank into a pit of shame and depression all the way home.’

Joe continued, “Not only that, but sometimes I get so angry at my wife that I am afraid one day I’m going to physically strike her. We have a two-year-old son, and when he cries and wakes me up at night, I get so angry that often I just have to get out of the house and go take a walk, or I’m afraid I might hurt him, too. I’ve prayed and prayed to get rid of this anger. I’ve repented of anger. I hate it. I’ve told God that I’ll do anything to get rid of it, but nothing seems to work. It’s ruining my life and my marriage,” he said with exasperation.

I suggested to Joe and his wife that we pray and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to him the root cause of the anger in his life. He agreed, so we began to pray. Simply asking the Lord to show Joe anything that was pertinent to his anger, we quietly waited. After a few minutes, I asked Joe, “Well, did the Lord show you anything?” “No,” he replied, “nothing pertinent.” “What came to your mind?” I queried. “Oh, just a dumb experience I had years ago when I was a kid,” he said. “As a matter of fact, I hadn’t even remembered that experience until now, but it doesn’t have anything to do with my life at this time.”

I urged Joe to share about the experience, but he continued to maintain that it wasn’t pertinent. Finally I told him, “We asked the Holy Spirit to reveal to you anything He wanted that was important, and this experience was the only thing that came to your mind. So why don’t we just trust God that He was reminding you of that experience for a reason, and perhaps we will discover that it is relevant.”

I have found that many times when people have been deeply wounded and hurt in their lives, through the impartation of the devil’s message of identity and/or destiny, especially by parents and other key individuals, the pain is so great that it is buried deep inside and never really dealt with. Because of the intensity of the pain, many times a key experience is even blocked entirely from the memory, and when it is brought to the surface, the individual is not at all in touch with the emotional pain still down deep inside from that experience.

As a result, regarding such memories or experiences, people will often times say things such as, “Oh, I’ve dealt with that” or “I forgave my dad a long time ago for that” or “Oh, that doesn’t hurt any more.” Christians will often say, “Oh, I’ve put that under the Blood.” However, many times the pain has not been released to the Lord, but rather stuffed deep inside and covered over. This is a part of the superficial type of healing that Jeremiah 6:14 speaks about. The truth is that there is still a deep wound that has never been healed but has only been covered over as an oyster covers a grain of sand. The prophet Isaiah describes the situation:

 

Isaiah 1:6: “From the sole of your foot to the top of your head there is no soundness— only wounds and welts and open sores, not cleansed or bandaged or soothed with olive oil.”

 

Imagine that you suffered a physical laceration of your arm. Instead of cleaning it out, antisepticizing the wound, and sewing it up, you simply left it open, let all kinds of dirt get into it, and never tended to it at all. After a period of time, the wound would scab over and might even look as if it were healed, but underneath the outer layer would be a reservoir of infectious puss. In such a situation, each time pressure is put on the wound, more infectious puss is released into the body. Eventually, for true healing to come, someone must lance the wound, irrigate out all the infectious puss, cleanse and antisepticize the wound, and close it back up.

This is the type of picture that Isaiah is giving us regarding the inner man. A spiritual cleansing must occur, and when it does not, a person can walk around all his/her life with deep emotional or spiritual wounds that are severely infected but have never been “pressed out or bandaged, nor softened with oil.”

Such was the case with Joe. Finally, he agreed to share the childhood experience that had come to his mind during prayer. However, he continued to maintain that the experience was not relevant; it was so insignificant that he hadn’t even remembered it until that moment; besideds, it didn’t hurt any more; and he had forgiven his dad years ago.

Joe began to share by saying that when he was eight years old, one Friday night he had an opportunity to have two of his friends spend the night with him at his home. He was very excited about this and had been looking forward to the event for some time. Finally the day arrived. That evening the three boys were allowed to stay up later than normal, eat popcorn, and watch scary movies. They were having the time of their lives and finally fell asleep at about 1:00 AM.

When Joe awoke in the morning, much to his horror, he discovered that a terrible tragedy had occurred during the night. He had wet his bed. He desperately did not want his two friends to find out about the accident, so he quickly stripped the bed and hid the sheets and blankets.

However, Joe’s mother found the bedding and discovered what had happened. She promptly let Joe’s father know. He decided that an appropriate time to discipline Joe would be at the breakfast table in front of his friends and the rest of the family. Joe’s father first exposed what had happened and then began to ridicule and shame Joe in front of the others. He called him a “bed wetter” and told him that they would have to buy him a big diaper to wear. Joe’s dad let him know what a big disappointment it was for him to have an eight-year-old son who still wet the bed. After much derision and ridicule, Joe’s father pulled down Joe’s pants, bent him over his knee and gave him a lengthy, bare-bottom spanking right there at the breakfast table in front of his friends.

Joe went on to share that after such total humiliation, he just wanted to sink through the floor and disappear. He also said that at that moment he wished he could have killed his dad, and that if he had a means to do so, he probably would have.

“But it doesn’t bother me any more, and I haven’t even remembered that experience for over thirty years,” he added. Realizing that there were probably was some unresolved, emotional wounding bottled up inside, as though under a cork, I asked Joe if he would speak out in prayer to Jesus how he felt while his father was ridiculing and humiliating him in front of his friends at the table that morning many years ago. He agreed to do so. We bowed our heads and closed our eyes to pray, and I waited about ninety seconds for Joe to begin speaking to the Lord in prayer. But he was not saying anything. I thought that perhaps he had not understood that he was to pray out loud, so I finally invited again saying, “Go ahead and just speak out to the Lord how you felt that morning.”

Suddenly this normally reserved, unemotional man burst into tears, and thirty years of stored up hurt, resentment and anger came flowing out during the next 15 minutes. He wept and wept and wept as the covered over wound was finally lanced. I was then able to show Joe how Satan had used his own father unwittingly to communicate to Joe as a small boy his message of identity and destiny. Satan’s message was: “You are nothing but a bed wetter. There is just something inherently wrong with you. No matter how hard you try, you will never succeed at anything in life. You are a shame to your family and an embarrassment to God.”

Joe later admitted that this really was how he had felt deep inside all his adult life. He had always believed that the deck was stacked against him, and that no matter what he did, circumstances beyond his control always caused him to fail, through no fault of his own. This would create great frustration and anger which, when acted upon, would further embarrass and shame him.

After releasing all that infectious, emotional puss from the inner wound, Joe was then able to forgive his father from his heart and afterwards go to God, his heavenly Father, and ask Him to reveal the truth of who Joe really was and why he was here. All Joe’s life the Lord had been waiting to impart to Joe His message of identity and destiny, but the devil’s message was already so strongly established deep inside. Up until now he could never receive God’s opinion of him. As a result, even though Joe was nearly forty years old, on the inside, in the emotional realm, there had always been living a fearful, insecure, eight-year-old boy.

Finally that day as the cork was popped, all the hurt and anger of the humiliated, eight-year-old boy inside were released, and for the first time Joe was able to allow himself to receive God’s message of identity and destiny and to be the man God created him to be without feeling inside to be a bed wetter. Joe’s entire life was changed that day. He later reported that it was like having lived his whole life in black and white up until that point and then discovering a whole new world of colour.

It is easy to see how Joes’ father was used unintentionally as a pawn of Satan to impart to Joe the devil’s message of identity and destiny. He had no idea of the impact that experience would have on Joe’s life for years to come. Joe’s father was simply attempting to discipline his son, but he had no understanding of blessing and cursing or of God’s “ancient ways”. Consequently, he delivered a message resulting in an inner image in Joe’s mind that caused Joe to spend many years trying to hack his way through the jungle with a machete instead of riding in a Mercedes on the highway to get to the goal. The Bible tell us that “for lack of knowledge My people perish” (Hosea 4:6).

 

As an eight-year-old, Joe was traumatized and then made judgements and resolutions which imprisoned him in anger – even years later. Have a look again at the principles and their consequences in Joe’s life:

 

1) We create the future with our words. 2) We receive according to our faith expectation. 3) Wherever we judge and not honour, we receive according to our judgement.

 

Like the older brother in Jesus’ story, he thought: “I am worthless. I am a bed wetter.” And his identity never recovered from this experience. As a young boy, he had not control over his bed wetting and then – as a boy – made this judgement: “No matter how hard I try, I will never succeed in life. The deck is stacked against me and circumstances beyond my control – like bed wetting – will always cause me to fail – through no fault of my own.” And this is how life turned out for him. He received – he was reaping – according to his judgement and these powerful words.

 

4) We become what we judge. 5) Negative judgements and resolutions work ever increasing devastation.

 

He had judged his dad for shaming him in front of his friends – unreasonable discipline – but he became the same in responding to others with unreasonable anger – even towards his own infant son. He had hated his father for spanking him and never dealt with this emotion until it became an uncontrollable anger problem with anyone that tried to make demands or exert authority over him.

 

The upshot was that Joe ended up like the older brother – at home with Father God as a Christian – but feeling poor and miserable. He thought of himself – he experienced life – as a failure – a bed wetter – a slave to uncontrollable anger and circumstances. His marriage was on the rocks. He was worried that he might lash out against his son. What would the future hold for him?

Are you – by any chance – the same as Joe and the older brother? Are there judgements and resolutions in your life which have the same devastating consequences of keeping you poor – even as a Christian?

I will give you another sample of judgements and resolutions and you may check whether one or more sound familiar to you:

 

Judgement: “I’ll probably fail.” Resolution: “Therefore, I won’t try.”

Judgement: “Most marriages fail.” Resolution: “Therefore, I won’t give myself totally to my spouse.”

Judgement: “Nobody likes me.” Resolution: “Therefore, I will be unfriendly first.”

Judgement: “I am ugly.” Resolution: “Therefore, I will hide myself.”

Judgement: “I am dumb.” Resolution: “Therefore, I won’t do my best.”

Judgement: “I’m fat.” Resolution: “Therefore, I will just be couch potato.”

Judgement: “I don’t deserve a good life.” Resolution: “Therefore, I won’t try to improve my life.”

Judgement: “I don’t deserve God’s blessing.” Resolution: “I will make it on my own.”

Judgement: “My sin is unforgivable.” Resolution: “Therefore, I will hide from God.”

Judgement: “Life is unfair.” Resolution: “Therefore, I distrust and withdraw.”

Judgement: “Satan is powerful.” Resolution: “Therefore, I will try not to attract his attention.”

Judgement: “People don’t accept me.” Resolution: “Therefore, I will put up a protective wall.”

Judgement: “I must be perfect.” Resolution: “Therefore, I will try hard.”

Judgement: “Men don’t cry.” Resolution: “Therefore, I will stuff my emotions.”

Judgement: “Pastors are authoritarian.” Resolution: “Therefore, I won’t come under a pastor.”

Judgement: “Godly businessmen can’t succeed.” Resolution: “Therefore, I will compromise my integrity.”

Judgement: “Women don’t like making love.” Resolution: “Therefore, I will have an affair.”

Judgement: “All men want is sex.” Resolution: “Therefore, I will use sex as a weapon.”[2]

 

All of these judgements and resolutions are common in people and you may also agree with some of themwith devastating results (for yourself and others). Joe – the man of the testimony – received healing and recovered his identity as a son of God. He was no longer a bed wetter – poor and miserable – but a son of God. How may healing and reinstatement as a son and heir of God – richness – come to you?

The question is: How desperate are you? Most people resist change until they can cope no more. How do you think (that) you are doing? Is it time to take another look at your relationship with Father God and become a son (with the best robe on your shoulder) – rather than the older brother?

The following are some of the steps towards healing which Father God will provide: 1) Humble yourself before him and be prepared to give up your judgements and give up your resolutions – your version of the truth and your version of what life is all about. Unless you humble yourself, you cannot learn anything new.

2) Have another look at your Father in heaven and become convinced of his goodness. The older brother in Jesus’ story was so full of resentment, anger and judgements that he never noticed what the Father was doing. In full view of the festive assembly, he left the celebration – let his piece of the fattened calf grow cold on his plate – and chased after his older son who was making a scene of boycotting the Father’s joy. He pleaded with his son. He loved him with no thought of his own dignity and reputation before the others. Take time and take another look at our Father in heaven and what he did through Jesus Christ – John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Let him embrace you and love you. Receive his compassion.

3) Let the Father help you. Like Joe, ask him to show you – through the Holy Spirit – where the hidden wounds are. Jesus promised – John 14:26: “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” What is God bringing to your attention right now? What has long been forgotten but has never healed properly?

4) Acknowledge your emotions, grieve and – if you can – let the tears flow. This is how we are made. Don’t bottle anything up. Even Jesus wept and shed tears (more than once) – Luke 19:41-44: “As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it.” Hebrews 5:7: “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.” We have a Father in heaven who cares about our tears – Revelations 21:4: “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

5) Repent, turn away, surrender and walk away from your judgements and resolutions. Don’t fix them – don’t improve them – don’t polish them up – don’t do anything in your own strength – but give them to Jesus. Let the damaging words die and then let Jesus give new life – a new mind, a new heart and new identity. The Father’s cure is radical but effective – 2 Corinthians 5:17: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” In Christ – we are forgiven and – in Christ – the old is not fixed up but exchanged for the new which is a gift from God. According to another Bible passage, we put to death the old – including our sinful judgements and resolutions:

 

Colossians 3:1-10: “ ... you have been raised with Christ ... set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God ... Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature ... You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other [do not hang on to sinful judgements and resolutions], since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.

 

6) Reverse the judgements and resolutions by forgiving anyone that has wronged you and blessing them. The older brother in Jesus’ story had a perfect father – (God is a perfect father) – but our human fathers – and other father-figures in our life – are often like the older brother and through them we get a twisted view of fatherhood – including God’s fatherhood. Forgive them and bless them. Overcome the negative words through the freedom of forgiveness. Jesus said – Matthew 6:9-15: “This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, ... Forgive us for doing wrong, as we forgive others’ ... For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 7:1-2: “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

7) Join the Father’s feast. In Jesus’ story, the Father invited the older brother to let go of his anger and have a bite of the fattened calf. If he just got over himself – his self-pity and his view of the world – if he just accepted that it wasn’t always about him – the older brother would experience – taste and see – how good his father really was. The Father’s joy would become his. A lost and dead brother had come home. Other people – as imperfect as you and I – are also loved by this amazing God. As healing comes, we are beginning to see the family again – not just working late by ourselves – and are beginning to recognize the riches that come from our Father’s heart. [Maybe celebrate the feast of Holy Communion with a new sense of awareness.]

Are we ready now? This morning – can we leave our poverty behind – our self-made prisons – and be restored as sons of our Father in heaven? I repeat the steps: 1) Humble yourself. 2) Take another look at the Father’s goodness. 3) Let the Father show you the hidden wounds. 4) Grieve over the hurt and loss that has come to you. 5) Turn away and put to death your damaging judgements and resolutions. 6) Reverse the damaging judgements and resolutions by forgiving anyone that has wronged you and blessing them. 7) Join the Father’s joy.

I will give you a short time where we are silent in prayer to God. Let him stir your heart and bring to your attention what kind of judgements and resolutions need repentance in your life and get ready to forgive and bless ...

Pray after me: “Father in heaven, I am proud but only you are good. Thank you for Jesus who died for me on a cross. Thank you for his blood that cleanses me from all sin. Please show me my judgements and resolutions. I am heart-broken for the pain which they have caused. I put them to death. I turn away from them and I forgive those that have wronged me. I bless them, Father, with your love. I receive your joy and rejoice in the salvation of many.”

God has heard your prayer. If you think that you are not yet free from your damaging judgements and resolutions, then consider confessing to someone else in more detail and speaking out what has been inside you. According to the Bible – (again) – there is power in the words that you speak out:

 

Romans 10:9-10: “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.”

 

James 5:16: “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”

 

Welcome back to sonship and new enjoyment of the Father. You are loved by him – an heir of the estate.

I want to come back to the beginning and the poverty of many Christians. This is what I asked you: “As a Christian, do you have God by your side but never seem to have enough of anything?” In Jesus’ story of the two sons and their father, the younger son had everything and he knew it but the older son had exactly the same kind of wealth but knew nothing of it. We have now talked about the older son – his damaging judgements and resolutions – his self-imposed imprisonment in a world of his own making – his long hours of work by himself and his anger towards his dad – but what exactly kept him poor? The younger son was not the perfect Christian either but he received from the Father’s riches. What was the difference between the two?

It is a key feature of Jesus’ story. I read to you again two small segments. Can you spot what makes the one rich and keeps the other poor?

 

Luke 15:12: “The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

 

Luke 15:29-31: “But he [the older brother] answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends ...’ ‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.’”

 

What’s the difference between the two sons? What’s the difference between being poor and being rich in the Father’s home? The younger son asked his dad for what he wanted. He knew that he was a son and loved and that the Father would give him anything – pay out the inheritance even before his death. He was the son that always came to his dad with what was on his heart. He was not shy of asking for things. The only time the younger son did not ask for what he needed was among strangers (in a distant country) when he desired to eat the food of the pigs that he was herding. There, he could not ask for his needs with the same confidence as a son would be asking his father. But even when he had made a mess of his life, he knew enough of his dad and goodness that he planned to return and approach him with another request: “I am no longer worthy to be called your son; but please make me like one of your hired men (so that I can earn a living).” The younger son was rich and became rich again – after he had wasted his inheritance – because he knew to come to his Father and ask his dad for what he wanted.

The older son never asked for anything with the consequence that he never received anything – not even a young goat for a BBQ with his friends – even though the Father told him later: “Everything I have is yours.” How could the older son watch the boldness of his brother – his outrageous request for his share of the inheritance – and not learn anything from the father’s response? Anything was there for the asking!

As Christians, we are also invited to ask for things – ask our Father in heaven – and this is called prayer. Do you pray? How often do you ask God for what you need – and want? As in Jesus’ story, this is what makes the difference between living as poor Christians – never even having a young goat – and living with our inheritance as the sons of God. Are you confident in coming to God with your requests? I again point out to you the younger son. He was not perfect – as you don’t have to be perfect – but he knew that he was a son; therefore he knew how to come to his dad with his requests.

We consider a few Bible passages:

 

James 4:2: “You do not have because you do not ask God.” [However, no anxious babbling is required. Cf. Matthew 6:7-8.]

 

Matthew 7:7-11: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

 

 

I think that it was last year – or the year before – that I had planned to go to a conference (with Bill Johnson) in Brisbane. David Challenor and David Francis were also going. The night before I had a blocked nose and all the symptoms which told me that the next day I would have a massive head cold and bothersome runny nose – requiring tissue after tissue. As I was lying in bed, Tatjana offered to pray for me. I put my head on her lap, she laid hands on me and then she prayed. I thought that it would be a quick prayer and I would be back to what I was doing. However, she kept praying and praying and, finally, I was thinking: “Why shouldn’t God heal me? I pray for others and have faith for their healing. Why shouldn’t it happen for me this time? I cannot really be at that crowded conference with my sneezing and messy tissues.” Slowly, I was relaxing into the prayer and exercising trust and faith. Slowly, I was turning into the son that was asking his Dad in heaven for what he needed and God healed me. The flu was completely gone – which also surprised David.

Right there I experienced the difference in being rich or poor as a Christian. Would I be a son – would I be confident enough – in asking my Father in heaven for what I need?

There is much to learn for us here. God – frequently – responds to immature prayers of immature sons. For instance, at one time his people did not even pray but just groaned in their misery and he heard them (Exodus 3:7). At another time, Peter – one of the disciples – had lost his faith – (which had previously enabled him to walk on water) – and simply cried out: “Help!” Yet, Jesus answered his prayer. God – many a time – responds to immature prayers of immature sons but – on the other hand – the power of prayer increases with maturity because – sometimes – the level of our confidence as sons has something to do with the outcomes of our prayers.

 

Matthew 21:21-22: “Jesus replied, ‘Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, Go, throw yourself into the sea, and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.’”

 

John 15:7: “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” [Cf. John 14:13.]

 

The following is the experience of a missionary in Mexico:

 

A young Southern-Baptist missionary – not yet out of language school – attended a worship service in the jungle of Mexico. There were about 400 Indians standing around and – in his own words – the Holy Ghost was everywhere in the meeting. They brought a little girl to him who was four years old. They set her down. He didn’t know what was wrong with her. She couldn’t hear. The problem was that she was born deaf. So he knelt down there. He had watched the power of God fall in the place and knock everyone down. He had watched people wailing and moaning. Jesus came and he was amazed at what was going on. Benches and benches full of people were falling and wailing and moaning. He had never seen it before. He – in his own words again – he was just a little Baptist guy. But it didn’t matter to him. He didn’t value manifestations. He valued Jesus. He wanted Jesus.

So, he was holding onto this little girl. He was down on the floor. He had seen other things already get healed in the meeting and he was impressed with Jesus and his heart was almost ready to burst with joy and faith. He just knew it was going to happen. And he knew that he was going to run off that mountain like a madman, screaming and yelling and glorifying the King. And he prayed and prayed and prayed and prayed and the healing did not happen. That impressed him. There was that much of Jesus, and what he could see and what he could feel, and the little bits of knowledge that he did have in him, and it bothered him and irritated him that she was not healed.

He was weeping. He was complaining. He was screaming. He was commanding. He was jumping. He was very frustrated and she stayed deaf. All right. He was humiliated now. All of the great wonders of God were going on all around him and this baby that he wanted to be healed so much, she was still deaf. He didn’t like that. Something had to change.

And now I quote from his account. He said: “ … So as I was on my knees weeping and holding this child, I called out to Heaven, ‘Please, would you help me? Just a little bit?’ And He did, there was a vision. I haven’t had a lot of them, just a few, probably 4, maybe 5 open visions where it is like a movie and I was there. What happened was, there was this awesome pasture, and it was beautiful, lush, and green and full of nutrients. The right things were there. And there was a huge beast, a big bull that was very strong, that represented me. He was snorting, and ripping the ground, and eating the right nutrients, and the power was definitely there. And the bull was tearing up the field with its horns. And then, suddenly in the middle of this huge beautiful pasture, there was a little present placed there by the Holy Ghost. And this huge, power bull walks up to that present, and with all of his power and might and all of his great ability, he could not open that present. In the next moment, there was a baby, 10 or 11 months old, maybe 15 months old at the most, sitting in front of that present and was very happily and easily opening the present. The big bull was tearing the ground up, was very powerful, was eating the great nutrients, but it was the baby that opened the box, not the big bull.

And I said to Jesus, ‘Either make me that baby or I’m not going to preach.’ And He said, ‘You must become like a little child to enter the Kingdom of God.’ It’s not the manifestations; it’s not the great power you possess; it’s not your great abilities, it’s becoming like a little child and using the gifts of heaven in your life. That’s the answer. That’s it! And so I’ve been working on that ever since” (David Hogan: Faith To Raise The Dead).

 

Why did God not respond to his prayer for healing? He was asking with power but not the confidence of a son which comes natural for any baby. He had learned principles and techniques and he had passion and resolve  - (in many ways he used them to be self-reliant like the older brother in Jesus’ story) – but not enough trust that God was a good Father who would heal the girl in response to his prayer. This devastated the missionary but put him on a journey of learning to become a son. [How? Spend time with him. Allow the Spirit to lead you into all truth. Concentrate on his goodness and worship him. Feed yourself on what he does – the testimony of the Bible and others. Exercise faith and trust. Take small steps first.]

Increased confidence will come with maturity – not least because God wants to share all of his plans with his sons. As you grow as a Christian, you will experience the thrill of being trusted with the Father’s programs and projects which confirms your sonship and increases your confidence in acting out the will of the Father – (as you pray for a sick girl or others). Hear the Bible on this:

 

John 5:19-20: “Jesus gave them this answer: ‘Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed.”

 

John 15:15-16: “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends [or fellow-sons], for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.”

 

There is still more. Sometimes – as sons who know the Father – we don’t even ask – we are not even meant to pray and petition God – because God expects that – like children today – we go and open the family fridge when we need something. When children are at home with dad, they use the fridge – they don’t ask for extra permission – at least in most families.

When the father told the older son in Jesus’ story: “My son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours,” he meant what he said. Everything of the father’s was already the son’s which meant that – as owner – he could have simply helped himself to a young goat for a BBQ with friends. Learn to be a son and take what you need. [The father of Jesus’ story had indeed divided the property between his sons and, thus, the older son was living on what was his share.]

This is quite a serious point because there comes a time when more prayer is not the answer because as long as we keep asking we are not receiving. We remain poor and are not using the authority that we already have as God’s sons. At one time, the people of God, under the leadership of Moses, were in the most severe crisis – wedged between the hostile army of Egypt and the Red Sea. They cried out to God for help. They again felt poor and miserable – like slaves – praying furiously – but God said: “Why are you crying out to me” (Exodus 14:15). Sometimes God is not pleased with more prayer but confronts us with this question: “Why are you crying out to me?” Use the authority that you already have. In Moses’ case he said: “Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water” (Exodus 14:16). In other words: “Use that familiar staff again and perform a miracle. Come on! It’s not your first time.”

Jesus made the same point with his disciples. Consider these two encounters:

 

Matthew 16:5-12: “When they went across the lake, the disciples forgot to take bread. ‘Be careful,’ Jesus said to them. ‘Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.’ They discussed this among themselves and said, ‘It is because we didn’t bring any bread.’ Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked, ‘You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread? Do you still not understand? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? How is it you don’t understand that I was not talking to you about bread? But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.’ Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

 

Matthew 6:45-56: “Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray.

Later that night, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he was alone on land. He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. Shortly before dawn he went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out, because they all saw him and were terrified. Immediately he spoke to them and said, ‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.’ Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed, for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened. When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret and anchored there. As soon as they got out of the boat, people recognized Jesus. They ran throughout that whole region and carried the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he went—into villages, towns or countryside—they placed the sick in the marketplaces. They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.

 

Twice Jesus multiplied food for thousands of people and twice he made the food multiply in the hands of the disciples as they were handing out the few loaves of bread and fishes. Jesus did not pray about this miracle but simply thanked his Father for his provisions. The disciples were to learn from these experiences. In a moment of crisis – faced with a hungry crowd – faced even with the minor problem of not bringing lunch with them – they were to repeat this miracle and others. As Jesus’ disciples – as sons of God – they were carrying authority and Jesus was not (at all) pleased with them when they still behaved like helpless and poor people and only prayed. People, who had fed thousands before, were not to worry about not packing lunch and they were not to worry about a storm in the middle of the lake but – as sons of God – take charge – go to the fridge – and fix the problem. Likewise, we never see Jesus praying for the sick but laying hands on them and healing them. He knew his authority and commanded us to do the same. Learn to use the fridge of your Father in heaven.

I come to a close. As a Christian, you can be rich because you have a Father in heaven who owns everything. Learn to pray and ask him for things. Learn to be a son. The older brother in Jesus’ story had exactly the same kind as wealth as his younger brother but knew nothing of it. You do not have to be like him. Give up any damaging judgements and resolutions and open your heart again to your Father in heaven. Ask him. Take what you need. He is saying to you: “Son, everything I have is yours.” Amen.

 

 



[1] See also Ephesians 6:17: “ … the sword of the Spirit . is the word of God.” Revelations 19:11-16: “I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True … his name is the Word of God … Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations … ” Hebrews 4:12: “ . the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword … judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

 

Isaiah 55:10-11: “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” 1 Peter 1:23-25: “ . you have been born … through the living and enduring word of God … ” James 1:18: “God chose to give us birth through the word of truth … ”

 

Luke 8:4-15: “ … This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God … But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.” Colossians 1:6: “ … this gospel is bearing fruit and growing … ” Acts 6:7: “So the word of God spread … ” Acts 12:24: “But the word of God continued to increase and spread.” Acts 19:20: “In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.”

 

1 Thessalonians 1:5-6: “ . our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction … you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.” Titus 1:3: “ … he brought his word to light through the preaching entrusted to me … ” Philippians 2:15-16: “ … in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life … ” Ephesians 5:26: “ … cleansing . by the washing with water through the word … ” 1 Timothy 4:5: “ … it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.” 1 Thessalonians 1:13: “ … the word of God . is at work in you who believe.” 2 Timothy 4:1-2: “ … in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction.”

 

[2] These examples are from Mark & Patti Virkler: Prayers That Heal The Heart, Alachua: Bridge-Logos 2001, p40-41.